To help advance a key component of Gov. Phil Murphy’s comprehensive economic plan, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) announced it has realigned operations to better foster a dynamic, supportive environment for New Jersey’s entrepreneurs and small businesses, including the creation of a new dedicated small business unit. This follows other recent efforts of the NJEDA focused on increasing access to growth capital for historically underrepresented businesses.
“Our vision for a stronger and fairer economy in New Jersey includes removing the barriers that small businesses face in growing and creating jobs here,” said Governor Murphy. “Offering greater pathways to capital and providing step-by-step support through a dedicated NJEDA unit staffed by a diverse and experienced team will help ensure that companies have the tools they need to thrive and succeed in New Jersey.”
The EDA’s new small business unit is charged with providing robust financial, workforce, and technical support to the State’s small business community, with a focus on historically underrepresented firms, including women, minority, veteran, disability, and LGBTQ-owned enterprises. The new unit will be led by Christina Fuentes, who has served as a Senior Business and Community Development Officer at the NJEDA since 2015, and focus on identifying economic opportunities in targeted and underserved communities. This unit will also include a Senior Small Business Liaison, a new position focused on outreach directly to historically underrepresented businesses and the organizations serving these enterprises. This position will also lead the development and implementation of proactive inclusion initiatives at the NJEDA.
“Making government work better is a pillar of Governor Murphy’s stronger and fairer economic plan, and the NJEDA is continuing to take steps to ensure that we are able to provide the most comprehensive and accessible assistance to small businesses in communities across the State,” said NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan. “The NJEDA’s new small business unit will allow us to meaningfully engage with a broader group of stakeholders, and provide a dedicated resource entirely focused on creating new economic opportunities and strengthening communities.”
To more efficiently and effectively reach target communities and sectors, the NJEDA also announced it is shifting its business development efforts to a geographic approach, allowing for greater capacity to help increase access to capital and training for businesses throughout the State and in all stages of development. The regional approach will help to maximize the NJEDA’s interaction with its diverse array of customers and stakeholders, including businesses and communities. Among the new resources that will be marketed to small businesses, the NJEDA announced last week that applications are now open for the $15 million Access Program. Access offers low-cost financing in the form of direct loans or loan participation and guarantees, providing more flexibility to businesses by placing greater emphasis on cash-flow with less reliance on hard collateral. In addition, the NJEDA acted to enhance its existing Premier Lender and direct lending programs, tripling the NJEDA’s loan term and amortization to 30 years and allowing for fixed interest rates for up to 30 years.
Sullivan noted that the NJEDA is continuing to identify new and innovative ways to assist small businesses in support of Governor Murphy’s economic development plan goals, which is focused on improving the State’s competitiveness and business climate. This includes exploring more effective delivery models for technical assistance and identifying enhanced partnership opportunities with Community Development Financial Institutions.
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