The New Jersey Economic Development Authority launched a free consulting program Monday to help small businesses address challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and to help them prepare for a strong long-term recovery.
The program is open to all businesses with five or fewer employees that maintain a physical storefront or office in one of New Jersey’s 169 opportunity zones.
After a pilot phase, the NJEDA expects to expand the program to more businesses.
Business owners interested in participating in the program should complete the intake form, after which an NJEDA representative will be in touch to provide more information on the next steps in the sign-up process. Business owners that need language assistance should send their name, spoken language, and telephone number to the authority’s language assistance line.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges for all of us, the data shows minority-owned businesses and businesses in historically disadvantaged communities have not only been hit the hardest by the public health impacts of the pandemic, but have also had the hardest time changing their business models and accessing the government relief they need to adapt and prepare for recovery,” said Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan in a prepared statement.
The Business Consulting for COVID-19 Recovery program offers free strategic advice and hands-on assistance to help business owners operate more profitably and be better prepared to take advantage of new relief programs as they become available, Sullivan explained.
“Small businesses in Opportunity Zones face more challenges than most during the best of times, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made it even more difficult to keep the lights on,” said New Jersey Redevelopment Authority President and CEO Leslie Anderson in a prepared statement. “Providing comprehensive support that not only helps these businesses overcome their current difficulties but also provides them with the skills and tools they need to build a more stable business over the long term is crucial.”
In partnership with the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey and the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, the NJEDA will provide up to 25 hours of free one-on-one coaching and support implementing solutions to make businesses more profitable while maintaining compliance with COVID-19 era public health protections.
Businesses will receive advice and assistance in getting grants and loans, adapting their business models, evaluating their financial health, and improving accounting and bookkeeping systems.
The AACCNJ and SHCCNJ will connect businesses with one of five specialized subcontractors depending on their specific needs: Main Street Advisory LLC, Dina Gonzalez, Ospino Consulting, GG CPA Services, or Greenberg and Associates.
“In addition to the challenges all businesses have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, many minority business owners have also struggled to access relief programs that have supported other businesses,” said AACCNJ President and CEO Jon Harmon in a prepared statement. “Fortunately, The NJEDA saw this disparity, and acted quickly to address it.”
“Many Hispanic business owners and other businesses in historically disadvantaged communities have trouble accessing resources and relief programs that are readily available for other small businesses,” said SHCCNJ President and CEO Carlos Medina in a prepared statement. “Through this consulting program, the NJEDA is paving the way for a stronger, fairer New Jersey where all businesses have the tools and skills they need to operate efficiently and access new relief programs when they become available.”