Kim Guadagno

The State’s Role in Growing Small Businesses

NJ Small Business Guide

Small businesses are the lifeblood of our state. New Jersey has more than 795,000 small businesses, which employ half of the private sector workforce. In fact, these businesses make up 98.4 percent of all employers in the state and are engines for growth. Now more than ever, we are equipped to nurture their development, and we have seen results from our efforts in the increased number of private-sector jobs since February 2010.

Our Administration has taken proactive steps to encourage small business development. Upon taking office, we developed the Small Business Advocate within the Business Action Center (BAC) to offer consultation services to emerging and established small businesses. The Business Call Center receives an average of 700 calls per week and provides a variety of resources, from guidance for developing a business plan and acquiring professional certifications, to advice on export opportunities and procuring government contracts.

We made New Jersey a more affordable place to do business by: doubling the R&D Tax Credit to 100 percent of Corporate Tax liability; implementing a 25 percent reduction in the minimum tax for Subsection S Corporations; phasing in a Single Sales Factor corporate tax formula to promote greater investment and job creation; and offering the Technology Business Tax Certificate Transfer Program, in which technology and biotechnology firms can sell net operating losses or R&D tax credits to profitable firms. In Fiscal Year 2015, $1.7 billion of the $2.2 billion in business tax relief will have been phased in.

Businesses stay where they feel welcome. To that end, I have personally called and met with more than 700 businesses to discuss the challenges they confront and the opportunities they wish to seize. This communication ensures that businesses have all the information they need when making decisions.

Trenton doesn’t always have all the answers. That’s why we solicit feedback from businesses to understand where the market is moving. I have spoken at 60 Chamber of Commerce events, Employer Legislative Committees and Resources for Business Growth Expositions to reach even more businesses and deliver the customer-oriented services businesses deserve.

One of our most significant creations is the award-winning Partnership for Action (PFA), which connects businesses with incentives, advocacy, workforce development and opportunities for international growth. The PFA has been a catalyst for improving New Jersey’s business climate and helping our companies increase their viability in today’s – and tomorrow’s – market.

The PFA is comprised of four legs: the BAC, the “one-stop shop” for businesses; the Economic Development Authority (EDA), the state’s “bank for business”; Choose New Jersey, an independently funded 501(c)(3) business-attraction and lead-generation organization that markets the state; and the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, which coordinates with New Jersey’s institutions of higher learning to prepare an educated workforce.

Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno addresses questions related to small business growth and expansion in the Garden State.

Q: What are some of the financial opportunities available to small businesses?

A: Grow NJ is the state’s main job creation and retention incentive program, offering base tax credits ranging from $500 to $5,000 per job, per year. There are also opportunities for bonus credits in certain cases, including targeted industries or transit-oriented development.

In 2013, the EDA supported more than 50 projects through small business lending programs like the Statewide Loan Pool Program, the Main Street Business Assistance Program, the New Jersey Business Growth Fund and the Small Business Fund. Assistance under these programs totaled more than $24.7 million in 2013 compared to $12.2 million in 2012.

Our partnership with UCEDC, a non-profit economic development corporation, and the Small Business Development Center Network (NJSBDC) connects small businesses with microloans, counseling and workshops.

In 2013, UCEDC trained or mentored more than 1,500 entrepreneurs, held more than 65 business training workshops and provided close to $2.9 million in loans to 96 small businesses, 30 percent of which were minority- or woman-owned.

The NJSBDC provided one-on-one counseling to nearly 5,000 clients in Fiscal Year 2014 and held 590 training seminars. The NJSBDC’s assistance created or saved more than 8,516 jobs and secured more than $64.9 million in financing in FY14.

Q: What other kinds of resources are available through the PFA? 

A: While it certainly goes a long way, financial assistance isn’t the only thing that businesses need, and we work hard to address the full spectrum of ways to promote their growth. BAC representatives provide counseling to businesses and serve as advocates, often aiding in site selection, permitting and licensing and workforce recruitment.

In June, the EDA hosted its first “Founders & Funders” event to directly connect entrepreneurs with investors to spur the growth of early-stage technology and life sciences companies. Choose New Jersey’s RFP Watch helps New Jersey businesses access bidding opportunities in both the public and private sectors throughout the region.

Q: Can you give any examples of the PFA’s success in retaining small businesses in New Jersey?

A: There are dozens, but a great recent case is Marathon Data Systems, which experienced significant growth over the last few years. Its executives began evaluating expansion options – strongly considering Boston – but we encouraged them to stay right here instead. In December 2013, the EDA awarded the company a Grow NJ grant worth about $3.24 million tied to the retention of 74 at-risk jobs and the creation of 35 new jobs. In January, BAC staff connected Marathon with the New Jersey Institute of Technology for recruitment services. In April, Marathon moved into its new Neptune facility. In July, we cut the ribbon.

Q: How does New Jersey encourage the growth of small businesses?

A: The Economic Opportunity Act of 2013 is a “game-changer” for the ways it helps small businesses develop and remain strong. New Jersey is in head-to-head competition for jobs both nationally and internationally, and the Act gives our state a seat at the table with businesses who might otherwise never consider New Jersey.

For example, it lowered the eligibility threshold for small businesses in industries like manufacturing, energy, finance, logistics and life sciences. Investment requirements have been reduced to 25 jobs in these critical areas and, for technology start-ups, reduced from 100 full-time jobs to as few as 10, and even fewer in Garden State Growth Zones.

Another factor is the bipartisan Red Tape Review commission, an often unsung component of New Jersey’s improved business climate. The Commission has taken strides to make New Jersey a welcoming home, promoting transparency, predictability and restraint in rule making across government through the implementation of “common-sense principles.” A telling statistic: in 2008, the NJ Register was 7,020 pages – by the end of 2013, it was down to 2,682.

Q: What is the best thing executives can do for their businesses?

A: Call us! Each situation is different, and that’s why we find ways to assist from every perspective. The BAC Call Center is open 8-5, Monday-Friday, and has available Spanish-language services – if you haven’t made that call yet, do it today at (866) 534-7789.

New Jersey is once again a welcoming home for business. Tell us what you need, and we will show you how we can work together for your success.

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