Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs Left Behind Again: America’s SBDC New Jersey Executives Issue Statement on the Enacted State Budget

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Despite the New Jersey’s ranking of 49th among the states in terms of small business friendliness according to a most recent study of the non-partisan Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council and 50th in job growth according to a study by the Business School at Arizona State University, the final budget passed by the Legislature and presented to the Governor, lacks the help small businesses need to help them survive, let alone grow.

NJ Small Business Development Centers - NJSBDC
If we want our economy to grow, we need to invest more in small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Legislative representatives often cite the importance of small businesses to New Jersey and promise to do the best they can to help them thrive.

Still, despite the state’s ranking of 49th among the states in terms of small business friendliness according to a most recent study of the non-partisan Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council and 50th in job growth according to a study by the Business School at Arizona State University, the final budget passed by the Legislature and presented to the Governor, lacks the help small businesses need to help them survive, let alone grow.

The New Jersey Small Business Development Centers (NJSBDC) network executives are disappointed in the outcome of the final budget. The statewide network, part of a national network of SBDCs (America’s SBDC), received stable funding with a quarter of a million dollars allocated. State funds are leveraged with federal dollars brought back to New Jersey for small business assistance and services and other non-federal sources including private sector sponsorships/grants. State funds are a significant way of meeting the federal match requirement.

“We had hoped that even though this was a difficult state budget, the Legislature would have presented a budget with restored, increased funding for this program,” said Brenda Hopper, chief executive officer-state director of NJSBDC. “Considering the $30 billion-plus budget, a half million in funding for comprehensive small business assistance and services, doesn’t seem like a tall bill to fill! This is especially so considering the program’s rate of return.”

Deborah Smarth, chief operating officer-associate state director, added, “The economy hasn’t fully recovered. It’s been weak. Investment in the SBDC program is a formidable way of enhancing small business ownership and entrepreneurship. Small businesses have produced more jobs for the economy during these difficult economic times. It’s a shame that New Jersey’s investment still dramatically trails the average state investment of $1 million in SBDCs nationally.”

“It seems that ‘small business’ is in the legislative and executive branch talking points, but, there’s a real gap between words and actions,” Smarth stressed.

The NJSBDC program once had an allocation of $1 million but during the last budget cycle of the Corzine administration, funds were almost eliminated entirely. The State Legislature, however, restored funding to $500,000. However, mid-fiscal year following the budget’s enactment, the funding level was frozen at $250,000. When Governor Chris Christie took office, his first budget proposed eliminating the $250,000 but the New Jersey Legislature again restored funding to $250,000 where it has remained to date.

Small business owners, who are clients of the NJSBDC network, had advocated for more financial support for the program they say has helped them survive, develop and grow as well as helped them save and create jobs for New Jersey, but, the final State Budget as presented to the Governor maintains the same level of funding.

“We wish that the Legislative Leadership would have played a greater role in restoring at least 25% of prior lost funding,” said Smarth.

“With all that our network is doing to help small businesses including those businesses who suffered hardships from Super Storm Sandy, we thought it was a reasonable approach to start restoring state funding for this jobs producing program,” said Hopper, noting the state’s below average investment ranking among SBDCs nationally. “But, there’s always optimism for the future.”

“If we want our economy to grow, we need to invest more in small businesses and entrepreneurs,” said Smarth. “Another opportunity was lost this year even though a good number of legislators supported increased funding by sponsoring such budget resolutions. We’re not turning our backs on the small businesses we serve. We will continue to advocate for the proper policies to support them.”

About America’s SBDC New Jersey (NJSBDC)

This non-profit network is a federal-state-educational partnership. Its expert staff and business practitioners help small business owners and entrepreneurs with every stage of business development and growth. The network headquarters is located at the Rutgers Business School in Newark. Its major funding partner is the U.S. Small Business Administration. The New Jersey Business Action Center is an additional funding partner of the NJSBDC program as well as other public and private grants/sponsorships. The NJSBDC network (America’s SBDC New Jersey) is an accredited member of the national network of SBDCs, with more than 1,000 centers and satellite offices throughout the country serving and assisting small businesses and saving and creating jobs across the nation. For more information, visit http://www.njsbdc.com.

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