There's Nothing Micro About NJ's Small Businesses

You've got the talent and the drive to open a small business - a neighborhood pizza place, maybe, or a laundromat - and now New Jersey is offering the incentive.

Gov. Chris Christie signed a law early this year offering help to anyone interested in launching a microbusiness, an enterprise with five or fewer employees.

The measure, which passed with overwhelming support in both the Senate and the Assembly, recognizes that although these businesses may be tiny, the impact they have on the state's economy is enormous.

In his newsletter to constituents, Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D-Burlington), one of the bill's cosponsors, points out that such operations represent more than 80 percent of all businesses in the country.

Moreover, at least half of them are run by women, minorities, low-income individuals or people with disabilities, the lawmaker says.

Other co-sponsors of the bill include Assemblywoman Elizabeth Maher Muoio (D-Hunterdon and Mercer) and Sen. Shirley K. Turner (D-Hunterdon and Mercer).

Among other things, the measure calls for counseling to be provided by qualified business counselors at One-Stop Career Centers, as well as an evaluation of an individual's ability to take part in self-employment training.

The state's One-Stop Career Center system assesses users' worker skills, and supplies information on employment-related services and other pathways to success.

The new law pays special attention to those projects that would benefit low and moderate income neighborhoods, and to those that would improve the quality of life for residents.

Would-be entrepreneurs who participate in the program will receive information about the wage levels in the occupation they're considering and the profitability of self-employed entrepreneurs in those occupations, as well as how successful past participants in the training have been.

The beauty of investing in future business owners at this level is clear: These newly empowered men and women go on to employ other men and women, many of whom have found themselves displaced as New Jersey's economy struggles for momentum.

"If just one of every three microbusinesses hired one additional employee, the United States would reach full employment," Singleton says, citing statistics compiled by the Association for Enterprise Opportunity.

All too often, owners trying to make a go of a mom-and-pop bakery or a downtown used-book store are forgotten when states lure high-visibility targets: Big Pharmacy, Big Banking and the like.

We like this more visionary - and inclusionary - approach, which in effect helps rebuild New Jersey's financial base from the bottom up.

Give the titans of small business the tools to prosper, and we'll all succeed.

Original Article