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Small Business

SBA’s 2019 Emerging Leaders Program

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) New Jersey district office invites New Jersey small business owners to apply for its 2019 Emerging Leaders Initiative, an intensive seven-month executive-level entrepreneurship training program for small business owners from across the state.

According to SBA New Jersey District Director Al Titone, the 2019 course will start on April 23 and will be held at the Rutgers Business School in Newark through October 15. The program has no out of pocket expense for participants, but has a significant time requirement that calls for approximately 100 hours of classroom time per participant.  In addition to the training, small business owners will be given the opportunity to work with experienced mentors, attend workshops, and develop connections with their peers, local business leaders, and financial communities.

“The Emerging Leaders Initiative advanced training series is open to small business owners and executives who have annual revenues of at least $250,000; have been in business for at least 3 years; and have at least one full-time employee, other than self,” said Titone. “Between now and March 22  we are looking for 20 of the most qualified small business owners who meet this criteria, are committed to the program,  and are on the verge of taking their businesses to the next level.”

The announcement was made at Optical Academy of Clifton.  Owned by CEO Abby Ayoub,  a 2017 graduate of the Emerging Leaders Program, the business provides on-site eye exams, eyewear and lens lab throughout New Jersey and New York.  When Ayoub was looking for ways to expand her business, it was suggested to her during her time in the Emerging Leaders classes to begin franchising her business model.   Since graduating from the Emerging Leaders program, Optical Academy has grown 19.5 percent and Ayoub says she is close to reaching an agreement on selling her first franchise.

“Taking small business owners like Abby Ayoub and getting them to take a step back from their small business and helping them find different approaches on reaching their goals is really what the Emerging Leaders Initiative is all about,” said Titone. “Before a small business owner graduates from the program they will have worked on growth strategies plans, and have access to financing and access to capital, government contracting and CEO mentoring.”

“Over the last five years, participants have come from all parts of the state and despite the arduous time commitment New Jersey has maintained a 95 percent graduation rate,” added Titone. “When we interview potential candidates to become part of the Emerging Leaders Initiative, we’re looking for small business owners to make a significant time commitment and who have the desire to grow their business significantly.  In exchange we are offering small business owners the opportunity to earn what is essentially a mini-MBA.  We have seen 73 small business owners go through this program in New Jersey and each of them has improved their business processes as a result of being enrolled in the Emerging Leaders program.”

On a national level, the SBA Emerging Leaders executive-level training series is now available in 60 cities and communities across the country. Entering its 12th consecutive year, the initiative has trained more than 5,000 small business owners, while creating over 6,500 jobs, generating over $300 million in new financing, and securing over $3.16 billion in government contracts.

“Over time, the Emerging Leaders initiative has been a catalyst for expanding opportunities for underserved communities,” said Titone. “We are excited about recruiting and interviewing candidates for our sixth class here in Newark.   Our primary goal is to get inner city small business owners, who are poised for next-stage growth, and provide them with the necessary support, resources and skills to help them to achieve long-term success.”

Additional information on eligibility requirements and how small business owners can apply to participate in the program can be found at  The online application for the 2019 Emerging Leaders initiative in Newark can be found at

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