For Immediate Release: Monday, August 31, 2020

Response Program Funded through DCA’s Neighborhood Preservation Program; Has Helped Save and Support Seven Small Businesses in District 

(Above) Wildflower Vegan staff social distancing and smiling because funding from the COVID-19 Response Pilot Program has enabled their employer to remain open.
(Below) Eric Nyman (middle), owner of Wildflower Vegan in Center City Millville, receiving a business support check from the COVID-19 Response Pilot Program created by the City of Millville and the Holly City Development Corporation.

TRENTON, NJ – The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) is highlighting a COVID-19 Response Pilot Program launched this spring in the City of Millville to help save independent small businesses in Center City Millville in the short term and assist them in becoming more sustainable and profitable in the long term. The response program, which was created with grant funding awarded to the City in 2019 through DCA’s Neighborhood Preservation Program (NPP), has helped save seven small businesses and retain 18 jobs.

The City of Millville and the Holly City Development Corporation worked with NPP staff at DCA to develop the response program after seeing how quickly the COVID-19 pandemic was devastating small businesses in Center City Millville. In addition to helping save businesses and retain jobs, the response program is keeping needed goods and services available to residents and maintaining the unique character of the community.

“Our NPP team stands with Millville in assisting these ‘mom and pop’ shops in this time of severe economic crisis,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Y. Oliver, who serves as DCA Commissioner. “This response program is not just about financial help, however. It’s also about providing practical and strategic guidance to these small businesses to help them grow stronger and thrive into the future.” 

The City of Millville and the Holly City Development Corporation have invested nearly $35,000 in NPP funding into the response program and leveraged another $30,000 of non-NPP funding. Additionally, they’ve hired a business assistance coordinator to help small businesses in Center City Millville engage in recovery planning, develop marketing and ecommerce capacity, and apply for other (non-NPP) sources of funding.

Through the response program, small businesses in Millville’s NPP district can apply for a forgivable loan of up to $5,000. As part of the application process, they meet with the business assistance coordinator and complete a business needs assessment. Small businesses are selected for a loan based on need, previous profitability, ability to continue operations seamlessly upon reopening, and likelihood of survival as demonstrated by criteria such as adaptive leadership, low fixed costs, strong balance sheet, and a loyal customer base.

Small businesses that receive a loan participate in technical assistance and must investigate and apply for additional funding resources to meet the business’ recovery needs. The loan can be used for inventory restock, supplies, rent/mortgage payments, utilities, marketing/promotions, equipment, and payroll.

“We are very grateful that we have been able to utilize NPP funding to help our small businesses during these difficult economic times,” said Heather Santoro, NPP coordinator and executive director of the Holly City Development Corporation. “So far, we have been able to assist seven businesses, have another six going through the approval process, and another five applications in varying stages. We are hopeful that we will be able to continue to find other resources to support these businesses with their ongoing needs as they work towards recovering.”

Last year was the first time in 11 years that DCA awarded NPP grants. A total of $2.5 million in grant funding was awarded to 20 municipalities, including the City of Millville. The grant funding was part of a larger effort by the Murphy Administration in 2019 to commit more resources to community revitalization programs that focus on small businesses and neighborhood improvement projects.

The 20 current NPP municipalities are leveraging their $2.5 million total grant allocation with an additional $2.85 million of non-NPP resources from local government, private businesses and property owners, foundations, counties, other grants, and sponsorships.

Since COVID-19 struck New Jersey, the NPP program has also supported grants for affected small businesses, local business gift-card programs, personal protective equipment for businesses, and outdoor dining equipment and facilities for restaurants.

The NPP program provides direct financial, tailored technical assistance, and robust training to the 20 municipalities to conduct activities that strengthen threatened but viable neighborhoods through local planning, community participation, and local investment.

The goal of the program’s longer-term commitment is to help towns build their local management capacity so that when the grant funding ends, they have the ability and the partnerships to sustain the work and keep making improvements. Municipal grantees must show a commitment of resources from the neighborhood and municipality, as well as support from community organizations and residents.  

For more information on NPP, visit

DCA offers a wide range of programs and services, including energy assistance, housing vouchers, affordable housing production, fire and building safety, community planning and development, local government management and finance, and disaster recovery. 

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Tammori Petty
Gina Trish
Lisa Ryan
(609) 292-6055