New Jersey's Economic Development Authority on Tuesday approved the "Stronger NJ Business Loan Program" to help businesses and nonprofits affected by Hurricane Sandy.

The EDA will offer low-cost loans of as much as $5 million to businesses and nonprofits that suffered physical damage, as well as to businesses looking to expand within storm-impacted communities.

EDA will administer $460 million of the state's Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery allocation for the program.

The program will have a focus on the nine most affected counties, including Atlantic, Cape May, and Ocean but is open to everyone.

Eligible recipients must positively affect the economy of their community through either capital investment or the creation or retention of jobs, and/or show evidence of a minimum of $5,000 in physical damage. Businesses located outside the nine counties must meet the $5,000 damage/loss requirement.

"Through the grant and loan programs, we are working to ensure that New Jersey's impacted businesses and communities are able to recover, rebuild and thrive," said EDA Chief Executive Officer Michele Brown. "It is critical that every business in need knows that funding is available and help is just a phone call away. We want to encourage businesses to grow and invest in our hardest hit communities to strengthen the local economy and promote the creation and retention of jobs."

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Beginning July 1, businesses and nonprofits can call EDA's Sandy hotline at 855-SANDY-BZ (855-726-3929) to speak with a representative to start the Stronger NJ Business Loan application process. For more information, visit