Esperanza Neighborhood Businesses Receive $230,000 in COVID Relief Funding
New Brunswick, NJ (December 22, 2020)– The City of New Brunswick and the social impact organization New Brunswick Tomorrow have partnered to facilitate the distribution of $230,000 in direct grants to small businesses in New Brunswick’s Esperanza Neighborhood to help these businesses recover from COVID-19 related disruptions and loss of revenue. These grants were made possible with funding from the State of New Jersey’s Neighborhood Preservation COVID-19 Relief Fund (CRF) from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.
With this funding, 29 neighborhood businesses received grant awards equivalent to slightly more than two months’ worth of rent or mortgage. All of the recipients are small, locally-owned businesses whose continued success is crucial to New Brunswick’s ongoing recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The NPP grant has been helpful in providing our business relief during these tough times,” said Filip Vukelic, manager of World Class Auto Body, which has been in operation at 321 Handy Street for 28 years and is among the grant recipients. “At the peak of the shutdown, we experienced losses that have been difficult to recuperate. We are very grateful and appreciative of the City of New Brunswick and New Brunswick Tomorrow for making this possible.”
“New Brunswick is synonymous with small business success, and this much-needed assistance will do more than just keep doors open and lights on,” said New Brunswick Mayor Jim Cahill. “These grants will help our family businesses, some of which have spanned generations, to emerge from the pandemic ready to grow and succeed.”
New Brunswick’s Esperanza Neighborhood is one of twenty neighborhoods throughout the state with an existing revitalization initiative supported by the state’s Neighborhood Preservation Program (NPP). NPP directly serves targeted neighborhoods and provides funding for community-driven revitalization projects to address their neighborhoods’ unique needs. Since last year, the City of New Brunswick and New Brunswick Tomorrow have worked alongside community stakeholders through the NPP to develop and implement improvements in the Esperanza Neighborhood, particularly the French Street commercial corridor.
“We are thrilled to help connect neighborhood businesses with this urgently needed assistance,” said Charles Bergman, Director of the Esperanza Neighborhood Project for New Brunswick Tomorrow. “This represents a huge step forward in our collective efforts to ensure that the Esperanza Neighborhood’s commercial corridor will thrive in the short and long term.”
"This has been a huge blessing for us through these hard times. Thank you so much for all the support and life changing help,” said Fernando Luna, owner of Cinco de Mayo Mexican Restaurant on French Street and another of the grant recipients. “Please remember to keep your hands clean and wear your masks!”