Trenton – In an effort to strengthen New Jersey’s economy, legislation sponsored by Senators Troy Singleton, M. Teresa Ruiz and Steve Oroho aimed at supporting the development and growth of minority-owned and rural businesses across the state advanced from the Senate today.
“As we rebuild the state’s economy following the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we must ensure that the recovery is equitable and inclusive of all businesses,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “Minority-owned and rural businesses have largely been left out of economic prosperity in the past. For these reasons, we need to put policies in place that give these businesses a fighting chance to compete and thrive.”
“As we work towards creating opportunities of equity in our society, it is important we think critically about the options we are offering our small business owners and entrepreneurs,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “By removing obstacles and creating accessible pathways to state and federal programs we can begin to be more inclusive of all business owners and move towards closing the wealth gap we see today.”
“New Jersey’s taxes and regulatory environment are tough on all businesses, but companies struggling to make ends meet in rural areas face particular challenges,” said Senator Oroho (R-Sussex/Warren/Morris). “The business development program will help strengthen and support small employers that are crucial to communities where good jobs are difficult, if not impossible, to find. We can open doors to new opportunities in communities on the back roads and off the beaten paths of New Jersey.”
The first bill, S-2770, sponsored by Senator Singleton and Senator Ruiz, would establish the position of Minority Depository Institution Coordinator in the EDA. The coordinator would collaborate with the EDA Board of Directors and the Chief Diversity Officer to identify and reduce administrative barriers to the participation of minority-owned businesses in any EDA loan program. The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 29-4.
The second bill, S-2771, sponsored by Senator Singleton and Senator Oroho, would establish the “Rural Business Development Program” in the EDA to provide grant funding to develop rural businesses, as well as appropriate $35 million to EDA from federal funds to help fund the program. The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 33-0.
The last bill, S-2772, sponsored by Senator Singleton, would establish the “Biannual Small Business Matchmaker Initiative” in the Department of State. The initiative would serve as a networking opportunity to connect small businesses with representatives of federal, state and local government agencies on potential contract opportunities. The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 33-0.
These bills are a part of a larger bill package supporting the development of minority, women-owned and rural businesses introduced by Senator Troy Singleton last summer.