NJDEA Launches $10 Million Grant Program for NJ Cannabis Startups!

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TRENTON – The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) Board announced today the creation of the Cannabis Equity Grant Program, aimed at helping start-ups in the state develop with assistance for early-stage expenses and technical training. Up to $10 million in state funding will be made available for applicants.

“My Administration is doubling its efforts to cultivate small businesses in burgeoning industries with massive untapped potential,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “The establishment of the Cannabis Equity Grant Program will help aspiring small business owners meet start-up expenses in a pivotal sector within our state’s ever-growing economy. Most importantly, the program will erode considerable barriers to access for communities of color, which this program will help to equip with the resources they need to not just enter, but thrive, in this exciting new industry.”

Following the 2020 referendum legalizing adult-use recreational marijuana in New Jersey and the 2021 legislation establishing the framework for regulated growth and sales, Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation in June 2022 allowing the Authority to offer qualifying small businesses licensed in the cannabis industry to pursue assistance.

“I am in full support of funding the Cannabis Equity Grant Program to help private entities create business start-ups in New Jersey,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Y. Oliver. “The Murphy Administration fought for the legalization of cannabis because of our commitment to social justice issues. Our administration will continue working to grow a cannabis industry that reflects the diversity of our state, protects access for medical marijuana patients, prioritizes justice, and promotes equal opportunities for communities of color.”

“Under Gov. Murphy’s leadership, New Jersey is committed to building a thriving and inclusive cannabis sector that maximizes opportunities for underserved communities and people impacted by the War on Drugs, and this program is a major step toward that goal,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “We look forward to continuing to partner with the Cannabis Regulatory Commission to advance additional programs to support entrepreneurs in this rapidly developing sector.”

$10 million will be made available in the initial pilot program. 60 percent of that amount will be made available to qualifying social equity applicants, like those who have previous cannabis convictions or live in economically disadvantaged areas.

Economically disadvantaged areas are defined by the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) as zip codes that meet certain socioeconomic criteria. These businesses can receive up to $250,000 to help with certain start-up expenses like regulatory fees, rental expenses, utilities, and wages. Qualifications for these businesses include holding a conditional cannabis license, business formation after March 2020, and employing 50 or fewer employees. Grantees will also participate in technical assistance and business education courses, provided by the Authority.

The remaining 40 percent of the initial pilot will be open to all entities who have secured municipal approval and site control over their business’s real estate. Applicants with conditional licenses and existing approvals can receive up to $250,000 in grant support for eligible expenses.

Tied to the legislation signed earlier this year are the allocations for Impact Zones, which are areas targeted based on previous levels of marijuana arrests, population, unemployment rates, and additional socioeconomic factors. Five percent of the total $10 million will be reserved for businesses located in Impact Zones.

To further encourage participants in economically disadvantaged areas, the application fee of $1,000 for those in these locations may be waived. The applications window will stay open for 180 days following the Grant Program’s launch. Go to their site for details on how to apply GOTO www.NJEDA.com to apply!!!

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