Buy NJ: Keeping B2B dollars in state will help everyone — especially our small business owners

By Tom Bracken, N.J. Chamber of Commerce
Trenton | May 18, 2020 at 12:09 pm
Op-Ed

New Jersey is taking the first tentative steps toward restarting its economy and, hopefully, with each passing day, we will see more and more businesses opening their doors.

Businesses — large and small — will face a dizzying array of challenges, many of which they have never had to deal with before.

While large businesses will have capital and other assets at their disposal, it is the small businesses that will face the greatest challenges.

Small businesses will need to understand and comply with new health requirements and standards for the workplace; many will likely need to change the way they interact with customers, and others may need to change much or all of their operating models.

As small businesses are addressing these unprecedented questions, they must also figure out how to sell enough products or services to generate revenue and profitability in what will likely be a tentative economic environment.

In 2019, there were more than 860,000 small businesses in New Jersey employing 1.8 million people — almost half of the private-sector workforce. If New Jersey’s economic reopening is going to succeed, we need small businesses to get back on their feet quickly.

The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce has been consistent in its plea to help businesses find adequate capital to fund their recoveries. In addition to loans, grants and equity to provide much-needed financial assistance, company profits can provide the cash flow to fill the capital void. Profits are mostly generated from increased revenues and would allow these businesses to keep employees on their payroll.

One way to help stimulate additional revenues for small business is to “Buy NJ.” We should all look first to buy goods and services from New Jersey-based small businesses when and where we can.

I would encourage business leaders, as they review vendor and supplier lists, to buy from New Jersey companies and especially remember to support minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned and LGBT businesses in our state.

I urge consumers to shop and dine at New Jersey establishments, and, when possible, visit the state’s many downtowns and Main Streets and support the businesses there.

We have seen our state and national economies rebound from recessions, depressions, wars and natural disasters. There is no reason to believe we cannot rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the past two months, we have heard political and business leaders, celebrities and citizens remind us that in defeating the pandemic, “We are all in this together.”

New Jerseyans took that message to heart and showed an impressive solidarity in flattening the health crisis curve.

Now we need to show the same solidarity and “Buy NJ” to elevate our economic recovery curve.

Tom Bracken is CEO and president of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce.

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