EDA launches consulting program for businesses hurt by COVID

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority announced on Monday it has launched a free consulting program to help small businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

The Business Consulting for COVID-19 Recovery Program, which is still in a pilot phase, is open to all businesses with five or less employees that maintain a physical storefront or office in one of New Jersey’s 169 Opportunity Zones.

Interested in participating? Apply here.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges for all of us, the data shows minority-owned businesses and businesses in historically disadvantaged communities have not only been hit the hardest by the public health impacts of the pandemic, but have also had the hardest time changing their business models and accessing the government relief they need to adapt and prepare for recovery,” NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan said.

Through partnerships with the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey and the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, the NJEDA said it will provide up to 25 hours of free one-on-one advice and hands-on support for business owners to learn new skills so they can operate more profitably while complying with state and local public health guidelines and be better prepared to take advantage of future relief programs.

“In addition to the challenges all businesses have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, many minority business owners have also struggled to access relief programs that have supported other businesses. Fortunately, The NJEDA saw this disparity, and acted quickly to address it,” Jon Harmon, CEO and president of the AACCNJ, said. “We are proud to work with the NJEDA to help business owners in the hardest-hit communities not only adjust to the challenges they face today, but also come up with new strategies and implement new tools to ensure their long-term success and sustainability.”

Participating businesses will receive advice and assistance on many topics, including how to secure grants and loans, adapt a business model, craft long-term business goals, evaluate finances and improve accounting and bookkeeping systems.

Depending on what the business may need, AACCNJ and SHCCNJ will connect them with one of five specialized subcontractors: Main Street Advisory LLC, Dina Gonzalez, Ospino ConsultingGG CPA Services or Greenberg and Associates.

“The Business Consulting for COVID-19 Recovery program is a crucial resource that will not only help minority-owned businesses withstand the current challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic but also prepare for a more successful, stable future,” Carlos Medina, CEO and president of the SHCCNJ, said. “Many Hispanic business owners and other businesses in historically disadvantaged communities have trouble accessing resources and relief programs that are readily available for other small businesses. Through this consulting program, the NJEDA is paving the way for a stronger, fairer New Jersey where all businesses have the tools and skills they need to operate efficiently and access new relief programs when they become available.”

Interested in participating? Apply here.