A three-bill package of legislation aimed at supporting small businesses cleared Senate committees at the State House in Trenton Jan. 26.
The measures – Senate Bill 3400, Senate Bill 3204 and Senate Bill 3208 – were each cleared from committee by unanimous 5-0 votes. The first two measures cleared the Senate Economic Growth Committee while the latter was released from the Senate Commerce Committee.
The first bill, S3400, sponsored by Sen. Andrew Zwicker, D-16th District, and Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz, D-29th District, would establish a mentorship program to help match new business startups with those who have experience in sustaining and growing a small business. Bill sponsors say it would encourage mentors to share their experiences transitioning to a new form of commerce and offer advice on how to avoid common pitfalls.
“New Jersey’s economy, like the global economy, is evolving daily, meaning that change can come rapidly for both new and established businesses,” said Zwicker. “This program is designed to promote partnerships of commonality, a sharing of ideas and best practices that would help all our small businesses reach their greatest potential in an ever-changing economic landscape.”
Ruiz said that small businesses are the backbone of our economy here in the Garden State.
“By bolstering existing mentoring programs, through both new and proven strategies, our small business community will continue to grow and remain a vital part of the state’s economy,” said Ruiz.
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The second bill, sponsored by Zwicker, would require the NJ Business Action Center (BAC) to establish a publicly available small business manual, which would be developed and maintained in collaboration with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA), the New Jersey Business and Industry Association (NJBIA), the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, and regional chambers of commerce across the state.
Zwicker says that the manual would provide information and guidance on establishing, maintaining and expanding a small business here.
“Starting a small business and making a go of it, especially in that first year can be daunting,” said Zwicker. “Fortunately, there is plenty of useful information available to help these businesses navigate those challenges and grow into profitable enterprises.”
The final bill, S3208, sponsored by Zwicker and Sen. Vin Gopal, D-11th District, would allow a “cure period” for businesses to address and resolve certain violations. The legislation provides state agencies the discretion to suspend enforcement of fines or civil penalties against businesses for certain first-time violations that do not significantly impact public safety or welfare.
“As recession-like uncertainty continues to haunt so many businesses in post-pandemic New Jersey, this legislation would give them breathing room to find remedy for violations not considered major but could represent a major hurdle for those trying to thrive in these still stressful times,” said Gopal.e