Rutgers center launches program for minority retailers

The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at Rutgers University has started a new program aimed at helping African-American and Latino retailers and restaurateurs to grow in New Jersey’s cities.

The center said Friday in a news release that the launch of the Black and Latino Urban Entrepreneurship Retail Acceleration Program, or BLUE-RAP, would help members of the community thrive, purchase property and open additional locations in downtowns and other areas of places like Newark, New Brunswick and Jersey City.

“The participating BLUE-RAP entrepreneurs will gain critical skills to help them manage and grow their urban business ventures,” Lyneir Richardson, the center’s executive director, said in a prepared statement.

“They’ll receive intensive executive education, training, financial counseling and ongoing mentoring over a six-month period. They’ll also be introduced to thought leaders in such areas as finance, marketing, accounting and site selection who will share valuable ideas to help them improve profits, become loan-ready, expand to new locations, survive potential disruption from unexpected market forces and continue to be a part of the revitalization in their communities.”

Over its 10-year history, the center has assisted 370 New Jersey business owners who have contributed more than $80 million to local economies, it said.

“I’m expecting that BLUE-RAP will be like an accelerated small business MBA program for retail owners,” participant Laura Mashtaler, owner of Black Swan Espresso coffee shop in Newark, said in a statement. “There should be more programs like this for local entrepreneurs who—like me—want to open new locations and own property. Rutgers deserves applause for assisting small business owners to gain a better understanding of business, accounting, finance and marketing.”

The program runs from February through August at Rutgers Business School’s Exchange Place campus in Jersey City, and is funded by Santander Bank, CarePoint Health and the Hudson County Economic Development Corp. It is a partnership between the center and Save Latin America, a Union City-based nonprofit.

A limited number of spaces are still available, the release said. To apply, click here.