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Princeton Small Business Resiliency Fund opens second round of grant applications

<h6>Mark Dodici / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
Mark Dodici / The Daily Princetonian

A second round of applications for grant funding from the Princeton Small Business Resiliency Fund (PSBRF) opened on Nov. 1, 2020, after the organization disbursed a first round of grants in September.

The fund is designed to help small businesses in the Princeton community adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it has already provided $5,000 grants to 70 local businesses, with $100,000 of grant money left to distribute. Despite relief efforts and loans, many Princeton businesses are continuing to struggle amid the COVID-19 crisis and the New Jersey lockdown that lasted from mid-March through early July.

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Businesses can use grants “to cover a portion of expenses associated with re-opening and adjusting to the requirements to conduct business,” according to the fund’s website, including buying sanitation supplies and personal protective equipment for employees. They can also use the funding to create socially distanced business spaces and adapt to online business models.

The grants are open to small businesses in the Princeton area that are independently owned and have been in business since September 2019. In the event that the demand exceeds available grant funding, businesses owned and operated by Princeton residents and businesses that value diversity in hiring will be prioritized.

Ron Menapace, co-owner of Homestead Princeton, a local home goods and furniture store, was awarded the grant during the first round of applications. Menapace shared that the grant funding was helpful with reopening the business.

“We had to close down for several months, operating solely as an e-commerce company. That was tough because a lot of our business relies on the quality of personal interactions we have with customers in our store,” Menapace said. “With the grant funding, we were able to purchase equipment to keep our employees and guests safe as we opened back up, as well as make the transition to our new location [at 300 Witherspoon St.] as seamless as possible.”

“In the event that there is another wave, we feel a lot more prepared,” Menapace added.

The University is one of the primary contributors to the grant, having provided an initial $250,000 to the PSBRF in June, as well as a $100,000 dollar-for-dollar match of local fundraising efforts.

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The funding follows the University’s commitment of $1 million in April to aid community organizations fighting economic challenges that have arisen from COVID-19.

Details and requirements on how to apply for grant funding are available here.

The Princeton Small Business Resiliency Fund did not respond to a request for comment.

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