NJEDA inks partnership to up outreach to minority-, women-, veteran-owned businesses

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority announced on Friday it has partnered with three organizations to help enhance its effort to aid minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses that have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The partnerships include Medina = Citi, 360 Marketing & PR, and Tara Dowdell Group. All three firms are minority-owned with 360 Marketing and Tara Dowdell Group are owned by women.

The EDA said the trio will help coordinate strategic outreach by raising awareness of the EDA’s $45 million Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program through public relations, webinars, teleconferences, advertising and grassroots outreach in targeted communities that are having trouble accessing state and federal COVID-19 relief.

After submitting proposals, the three were selected to be part of the effort based on the strength of their plan and established connections to diverse communities.

“Equity creates economic strength. Ensuring minority- and women-owned businesses have equal access to COVID-19 relief funds not only benefits these businesses and their employees, but it also helps us lay the foundation for a broad, robust economic recovery,” NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan said. “The NJEDA is proud to partner with leading marketing and public relations agencies who specialize in connecting with these targeted groups to ensure we continue moving toward our goal of building a stronger, fairer economy during these trying times.”

During Phase 1 of the EDA’s program, it said it supported more than 1,500 New Jersey businesses with $5 million worth of grants.

Phase 2 will expand the program using $45 million in federal Coronavirus Relief Fund established under the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Securities Act. Of the $45 million, $15 million will be set aside to support businesses located in one of the 715 census tracts that are considered Opportunity Zones. Eligibility for the second round has changed to include the size of businesses that can apply.

About the partnerships:

Medina = Citi is a visual and multimedia design firm based in Newark. The firm will support the effort with targeted messages, outreach to partners in North Jersey, direct calls and emails with small business owners, and webinars and teleconferences.

“This initiative is indicative of the commitment and leadership of the NJEDA to support multicultural small business owners who have been overlooked for support,” Medina, Medina = Citi creative director, said. “Phase Two has been substantially expanded budget-wise to be more inclusive for business owners who are sole proprietors and home-based. I am incredibly proud to be a part of these endeavors which will expand the reach of the program and provide greater support for business owners in our state.”

360 Marketing and PR is a marketing firm based in Camden. It will focus on raising awareness about the program through social media, paid advertisements and a grassroots community outreach push in South Jersey.

“As a minority microbusiness ourselves, we’re extremely excited to see the NJEDA roll out an additional grant for minority businesses, especially for those in Opportunity Zones,” Vania Abdul-Badee, chief marketing officer at 360 Marketing and PR, said. “During this pandemic, we’ve seen time and time again a litany of minority businesses left out of receiving funding. In New Jersey, thousands applied and were denied, and for those who didn’t, it was because of barriers of accessibility. We look forward to assisting the NJEDA with awareness and addressing these issues so more businesses in our communities will apply and receive financial assistance.”

Tara Dowdell Group is a Jersey City-based communications and marketing firm. It will help the EDA reach national, regional and hyperlocal media as well as curate a grassroots campaign with a virtual town hall to discuss the next round of grants and other programs and resources available.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is exposing and exacerbating the long-standing inequity of historic barriers for small, minority, and women-owned businesses in accessing capital. This issue not only impacts the sustainability of these businesses, but it also impacts their workers and the communities where they are based,” explained Tara Dowdell, President of Tara Dowdell Group. “The full recovery of the state of New Jersey is contingent on the full recovery of these businesses. I’m honored that my agency has been selected to help ensure that the entities that contribute so much to our state’s economy and stability are being prioritized and afforded equal access to the funding and resources that are being made available. I commend Governor Murphy, Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, and NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan for making an investment of this magnitude into the survival of small businesses, and in particular, those from disinvested communities.”