by ELISSA SALAMY, The National Desk
WASHINGTON (TND) — According to watchdog group Open the Books, Westfield, New Jersey, spent COVID-19 aid on 2,000 promotional tote bags that sat unused in a warehouse.
“We can argue about the laudable goal of trying to convince your local residents to shop locally,” said Open The Books’ Adam Andrzejewski to The National Desk’s Jan Jeffcoat.
According to Andrzejewski, other communities in New Jersey used their CARES Act funding to help residents through things like food pantries, or direct grants to small businesses.
“Westfield, New Jersey, they had a $72,000 federal grant; they spent $10,000 on ambassadors to help gift wrap packages for the holidays,” said Andrzejewski.
Andrzejewski said there’s been pushback from residents and small business owners in Westfield.
“Westfield has 55,000 square feet of unused retail space, so there's a lot of vacancies. Furthermore, WalletHub did a study and Westfield ranks dead last in the best place to start a small business,” said Andrzejewski.