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Budget Committee Advances Bills to Mentor, Provide Online Training to Small Businesses

Supporting small business

Trenton – Two pieces of legislation aimed at helping small businesses adjust to the changing technological landscape while also mentoring them on how to achieve best practices to sustain growth in a 21st Century world were released from the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.


The two bills passed out of committee are meant to support small businesses and other new businesses in the state who may be struggling in these still uncertain economic times.


Under the mentorship bill, S-3400, sponsored by Senator Andrew Zwicker and Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz, the NJ Business Action Center (BAC), in the Department of State, would establish a mentorship program to match those just starting off with those that are experienced in sustaining and growing a small business.


“New Jersey’s economy, like the global economy, is evolving daily, meaning that change can come rapidly for both new and established businesses. This program will help promote partnerships, a sharing of ideas and best practices that will help all our small businesses reach their greatest potential in an ever-changing economic landscape,” said Senator Zwicker (D-Middlesex/Mercer/Somerset/Hunterdon).


The legislation would encourage mentor entities to share their experiences transitioning to a new form of commerce, such as transitioning from brick-and-mortar to online or transitioning to the sale of a product or service that the mentor entity did not previously have experience selling, and suggestions to avoid common pitfalls.


“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, especially here in New Jersey, where more than 861,000 businesses reside. 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 Senator Ruiz (D-Essex).


This bill would also seek to establish a formal mentorship program under the NJ Business Action Center by requiring at minimum quarterly and in-person meetings between the mentor and mentee entities.


A second bill, S-3210, sponsored by Senator Vin Gopal and Senator Nellie Pou, would require the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers, in consultation with the BAC, to establish a program to help small businesses in the State develop an Internet presence. The program would be limited to businesses with fewer than 25 employees.


“Starting a small business is challenging enough. Being able to utilize the internet and launching supportive social media campaigns and efficient websites can be equally daunting,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “This bill will help businesses grow their online presence and sales, and help them become more efficient as they grow.”


The bill also requires the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers to conduct outreach to institutions of higher education, county colleges, the technology sector, local community centers, libraries, and other similar entities to recruit volunteers to assist the center in administering and promoting the program.


“Formerly traditional Main Street businesses are finding they must adjust their business models, and their businesses practices, to survive in a more digitized and quickly-changing marketplace,” said Senator Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen). “This program will provide much of the technological know-how they need to succeed in a 21st-Century world.”


The bills, S-3400 and S-3210, were released from committee by votes of 10-0, and 10-0, respectively.