Public Sector Assistance

Many state and federal agencies, plus business organizations, have boots on the ground when it comes to providing valuables services to entrepreneurs.

SBA-Alfred_TitoneSBA: The “Go to” Source for NJ Small Business Owners

By Alfred J. Titone, NJ District Director, U.S. Small Business Administration

With more than 850,000 small business owners located throughout the state, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) New Jersey District Office remains the “go to” source for entrepreneurs and existing business owners looking to start, grow or expand a small business in the Garden State.

Whether you need to create a successful business plan, get expert advice on expanding your business, or help with finding access to capital, SBA’s network of local resource partners can help guide you with many of their no-cost business counseling and training programs.

SCORE, the nation’s largest network of volunteer business mentors, harnesses the passion and knowledge of real-world business executives to provide invaluable mentorship delivered in person, via e-mail or over video chat.

This year, New Jersey Small Business Development Centers (NJSBDC) is celebrating its 40th Anniversary. NJSBDC counselors help entrepreneurs to realize their dreams of business ownership and then help them to remain competitive in an ever-changing global economy. Business owners and entrepreneurs have access to free counseling and low-cost training on topics such as marketing, regulatory compliance, technology development and international trade.

Since 2007, New Jersey has seen a 31 percent increase in women-owned businesses, and with nearly 280,000 women-owned businesses in the state, SBA has two Women’s Business Centers in place to provide counseling, training, mentoring and referrals. Serving Northern and Central New Jersey is the Women’s Center for Entrepreneurship Corporation based in Chatham Covering Southern New Jersey is the the Latin American Economic Development Association (LAEDA), which is based in Camden.

Collectively, these three organizations counseled and trained more than a million clients nationwide. In New Jersey, their counseling and mentoring are helping some 10,000 entrepreneurs a year to secure growth capital; start new companies; select a proper legal structure; and act as a sounding board for business ideas.

Just ask Chris Finnick of Mama’s Southern Style BBQ2 in Vauxhall. Chris needed help to expand his takeout restaurant. He turned to the Small Business Development Center hosted by Kean University, where he received assistance with his business plan and projections. Chris was introduced to the Regional Business Assistance Corporation (RBAC), an SBA lender of 504, Community Advantage and Microloans. He was able to secure $90,000 in SBA loans and received a $75,000 Community Advantage loan plus a $15,000 Microloan to help him purchase new equipment, make leasehold improvements and obtain working capital to make a move into a new location.

This year, the SBA will provide more than 2,000 loans to New Jersey small business owners. The organization could be on pace to reach $900 million in loan volume. It would surpass SBA’s $869 million record dollar amount allocated to New Jersey small businesses last year.

If you’re thinking of starting, growing or expanding a small business, then think about connecting with one of SBA’s many resources. Finding the right mentor could be the difference between success and failure. Start today by visiting

Melanie WilloughbyNJBAC offers Expert Support to Small Business

By Melanie Willoughby, Executive Director, New Jersey Business Action Center

More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and small businesses create approximately two-thirds of the country’s new private-sector jobs. At the same time, over half of new businesses face significant and unique challenges within the first five years.

In New Jersey, the New Jersey Business Action Center (NJBAC) is helping small businesses grow by offering business owners specialized support. Specifically, we offer a one-stop shop for small businesses covering everything from choosing a company name to payroll and taxation.

Here are the four most important resources that the NJBAC provides to small business owners:

Real-time mentoring assistance: The NJBAC call center is a readily available resource for business owners seeking immediate assistance for issues including: financing and incentives programs, permitting and regulatory processes, and site selection services. Open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST every week day, the advocates at the NJBAC respond to entrepreneurs within seconds, fielding an average of 600 calls per week. Last year, the call center (1-800-JERSEY-7) counseled more than 30,000 businesses. Spanish-speaking advocates are available.

Financing and incentive programs: There are a variety of financing options available to businesses through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and community-based micro-lending organizations. The NJBAC can identify the specific programs for which a business may be eligible — saving entrepreneurs valuable time.

Government Procurement Assistance: The NJBAC can help small businesses grow by entering the new market of government procurement. Whether helping companies obtain a registration as a Small Business Enterprise so that they can participate in the Small Business Set Aside Programs, or accessing a consultant to develop a marketing strategy specifically designed for procurement opportunities, the BAC can open the door to new opportunities.

Export assistance: For exporting basics, regulatory compliance, customs procedures, grants and more, the NJBAC can put small businesses in touch with a team of international advocates who can help lay the groundwork for global success. Specifically, companies can apply for funding for international marketing initiatives including trade shows and translation costs through the NJSTEP grant program. Go to for more details.

Resources for Business Growth: Throughout the year, the NJBAC hosts events that match business owners with state and county representatives and community partners to learn more about available resources. Business owners are on the job every day and are often too busy to come to NJBAC offices in Trenton. Therefore, Center representatives frequently travel across the state to provide information on the resources it offers to help businesses succeed.

Operating under the leadership of Secretary of State Tahesha Way, the NJBAC encourages the optimum conditions for business growth and job creation in the state. The NJBAC’s experienced business advocates work to revitalize and expand New Jersey’s business community, providing a customer-oriented approach to assist business of all sizes. The NJBAC Call Center can be reached at 1-800-JERSEY-7.

Deborah K. SmarthNJSBDC Helps Navigate Start-Up Challenges

By Deborah K. Smarth, Chief Operating Officer & Associate State Director

For 40 years, the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers (NJSBDC) program – with 12 centers statewide – has assisted businesses to develop and grow. From science-technology companies and manufacturing firms that innovate and produce products for diverse purposes to the small business establishments on Main Street, America’s SBDC New Jersey supports small business success. NJSBDC, part of a national network (America’s SBDC), has the largest footprint in the state when it comes to comprehensive small business assistance. Its formal partnership with the private sector, higher education institutions, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the New Jersey Business Action Center – and national resources at its fingertips – empowers high quality services and high impact outcomes. Small businesses assisted by SBDCs had an average 14.8 percent rate of job growth when compared to the national average of 1.8 percent for businesses not receiving SBDC assistance.

Currently, 60 percent of NJSBDC’s client portfolio is established businesses of varying employment and revenue ranges, including those with $1 million or more in revenues and/or 10 or more employees. Several thousand small business clients are assisted annually with their important needs. Our business experts’ one-on-one management consulting, including a customized company assessment, allows small business owners and their management teams to receive the best possible advice to promote productivity and efficiencies, increasing sales and generating jobs.

NJSBDC assists existing businesses and start-ups with: Business plans and marketing strategies; accounting and financial/cash flow analysis; website development and online sales; pricing strategies; knowing their industry competition; intellectual property issues; bidding on commercial and public sector procurement contracts; international trade opportunities and exporting strategies; specialized proposal preparation (for sci-tech companies) to attract federal “seed” grant funding to commercialize their technology; audits of company facilities, and recommending ways to become more sustainable by going “green,” resulting in short-term and long-term savings. Individuals exiting from the corporate world, lawyers, doctors, consultants and other professionals seek NJSBDC’s assistance to sharpen their entrepreneurial and business skills. We provide assistance to those who want to start a business, helping them to avoid all the pitfalls and navigate the challenges of starting a business including understanding their market, choosing the right location, ensuring their business plan has the right components, developing financial projections, and helping them access financing to make that leap to start a successful business.

One of our newest initiatives is the Business Growth Accelerator Program (B-GAP). It focuses on assisting high-impact businesses with $1 million-plus in revenues and/or 10 or more employees with various issues including operational “quick fixes;” breaking down solutions into manageable pieces to address major problems; and identifying major growth opportunities (e.g., new markets to enter, using technology better to serve customers more efficiently, launching strategic alliances and joint venture opportunities to drive more growth).

Expectations are high! Success stories abound. Our network’s reward is our clients’ success. Let our business experts assist you with your business needs.

NJBIA-Michele_SiekerkaNJBIA Offers Small Businesses Big Advantages

By Michele N. Siekerka, Esq., NJBIA President and CEO

In a high-cost state like New Jersey, it’s critical that businesses have support in balancing their bottom line to achieve maximum return on their investment. That’s where the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) comes in!

NJBIA is proud to be the largest business association in the nation. We count among our members thousands of small companies that depend on us to help them lower operating costs and meet the challenges of running a business in New Jersey.

We do this with powerful advocacy in Trenton on legislation and regulatory issues affecting business; informational networking events providing access to decision makers; a member 411 call center to answer HR and legal questions; and numerous money-saving programs.

At NJBIA, we’re all about exceeding — not just meeting — our members’ expectations. That’s why we ask our members to express their needs and let their input guide our development of new initiatives.

Case in point: The cost of providing health benefits has always been our members’ No. 1 concern. After extensive research, we partnered in 2018 with the not-for-profit Association Master Trust (AMT) to offer a self-funded health benefits solution that pools our members’ purchasing power to access competitive healthcare plans typically offered only to much larger companies. Hundreds of NJBIA business owners have made the switch to AMT and now can benefit from network services, modern claims administration, and a track record of annual dividends.

The enthusiastic response to AMT has inspired us to seek out other ways to leverage our members’ collective buying power to save money. We anticipate rolling out more programs like this in 2019.

NJBIA also provides extensive back-office support so our members can spend more time focusing on what’s most important: growing their businesses. Our partners offer a wide array of money-saving programs that lower credit card processing costs, energy bills, state-mandated disability insurance, shipping costs and more. We also host an online career center so HR needs for recruiting can be more easily accomplished. And, our new Member Marketplace connects members with each other for access to needed services and products.

Navigating government regulations and HR issues is complicated, but NJBIA’s Member Action Center (MAC) helps you obtain the answers you need. We provide three legal hotlines, staffed by attorneys from leading New Jersey law firms who provide 30 minutes of free legal consultation a month on HR issues, general contract matters, and business disputes. The MAC also offers more than 50 Fast Facts documents online to connect you with small business resources and provide guidance on a wide range of labor and employment issues such as overtime requirements, family and medical leave, independent contractor classifications, hiring rules for minors, and more.

To learn more about NJBIA’s money-saving programs, or to obtain answers to general business questions, please reach out to our Member Action Center via e-mail at [email protected] or call 1-800-499-4419 extension 3.

Running a small business certainly has its challenges. Let NJBIA make your job easier.

Maureen_TinenUCEDC Offers Lending Options When Your Bank Says “No”

By Maureen Tinen, UCEDC President

If you need to buy inventory for an upcoming busy season, cover payroll until that big contract pays off, pay down expensive debt to free up cash, or even take the leap from leasing to owning your building, and your bank says “No,” you have other options.

The US Small Business Administration (SBA) contracts with organizations like UCEDC to step in and help sound businesses when they don’t qualify for conventional lending. We know that small businesses like yours create jobs, invigorate communities, and boost the local economy. That’s why we offer loans from $5,000 to $5 million (at fair rates and terms, unlike many online lenders) for almost any business purpose. And that’s why we are willing to take the time to understand your specific circumstances and look to find ways to get to the, “Yes!”

While every borrower’s story is different, there are a few common challenges facing small business owners as they look for financing.

Age of business: Banks typically will not lend to businesses less than two years in operation. So where does that leave the start-up that needs working capital to get going? Thankfully, SBA lenders like UCEDC can say, “Yes” to borrowers with sound business plans and experience in the industry. That last part is particularly important to us: We want to make sure you understand the challenges of running a business in your particular industry so that you have the greatest chance of success.

Lack of collateral: Commercial lenders expect a borrower to come to the table with collateral to cover the amount of the loan. For most small business borrowers, that collateral is their home. What happens if you don’t have enough equity in your home or just don’t own a home at all? You get a “No.” But with our SBA loan products, we’re often able to say “Yes” to business owners, regardless of their available collateral.

Insufficient equity: No lender will fund 100 percent of a project and UCEDC is no different. If you’re not willing to risk some of your money, why should we risk ours? But, while conventional lenders can require a 20 percent – 30 percent equity contribution or down payment, we can say “Yes” with as little as 10 percent. That could mean thousands of dollars in savings for you – money you can reinvest into your business!

Don’t believe those old urban myths about the SBA lending process – our documentation requirements and time frames are right in line with those of your local bank. And our loan officers and business mentors are available to answer questions and guide your progress. Even better, our borrowers get free, individualized business consultation services for the life of the loan.

Remember, when it comes to getting access to the capital you need for your business, don’t take “No” for an answer. The SBA and lenders like UCEDC are ready to look for the “Yes.”

Tim_SullivanEDA Offerings in Support of Small Companies and Entrepreneurs

By Tim Sullivan, Chief Executive Officer, NJ Economic Development Authority

With more than 860,000 small businesses employing over 50 percent of New Jersey’s workforce, expanding the state’s focus on our small business and startup sectors is a critical component of Gov. Phil Murphy’s vision for a stronger and fairer economy.

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) shares the governor’s commitment to small businesses and entrepreneurship, and we continue to enhance our portfolio of assistance to most effectively drive inclusive, sustainable growth by making it easier for businesses to prosper in New Jersey.

We have made significant organizational changes to fill gaps and facilitate growth in these areas, including our new Office of International Trade and Investment, which will unlock opportunities for businesses at home and abroad; and our new Office of Economic Transformation, which will develop targeted initiatives in high-growth sectors such as clean energy, infrastructure, advanced manufacturing, technology and life sciences.

Recently introduced initiatives include the Innovation Challenge, a pilot program offering competitive planning funds to communities to strengthen their local innovation ecosystems, and a new program that will assist start-ups with rent at incubators, accelerators and other collaborative workspaces. We are also partnering with the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey to launch the Small Business Bonding Readiness Assistance Program, which will better position small, minority- and women-owned businesses to compete for state or federal government contracts.

These new initiatives complement existing efforts to support small business growth. In Garden State Growth Zones, EDA grant funding is available to small businesses for rent assistance associated with newly-leased space or façade and first-floor improvement projects.

In addition, the Technology Business Tax Certificate Transfer (NOL) Program continues to serve as a lifeline for emerging technology and life sciences companies, allowing these entities to sell their net operating losses and unused research and development tax credits for cash. And the Angel Investor Tax Credit Program, which offers a 10 percent refundable tax credit for investments in eligible emerging technology businesses, has become a key selling point for many New Jersey firms, helping to attract more investors to support their growth.

Finally, we continue to support small businesses with low-cost financing including direct, low-interest loans and loans in partnership with nearly two dozen banks. Tax-exempt bond financing is also available for manufacturing companies, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organizations, and exempt public facilities. I encourage small business owners and entrepreneurs to visit to find the resources best suited to their needs.

Read more about available assistance for your small business: Private Sector Assistance.

To access more business news, visit NJB News Now.

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