Wells Fargo providing 2 N.J. organizations with $750K for small businesses

Wells Fargo is providing $750,000 to a pair of New Jersey organizations through its new Open for Business Fund benefiting underserved small businesses, it announced Tuesday.

Union County Economic Development Corp. received $500,000 and Greater Newark Enterprises Corp. received $250,000 to aid their short- and long-term COVID-19 recovery efforts, microlending activities and special programs for diverse business owners, Wells Fargo said in a news release.

“Thank you to Wells Fargo for being on the forefront of providing resources to small businesses historically underrepresented, and especially during this pandemic,” Adam Farrah, UCEDC’s president, said in a prepared statement. “COVID-19 has presented significant challenges for the majority of small businesses in this country. Once again, Wells Fargo has risen to the occasion with its Open for Business initiative.”

The two organizations are among the first nationwide to receive funding from the financial services corporation, which has a major presence in New Jersey.

“GNEC is honored and grateful to have been selected as a recipient of a $250,000 grant from Wells Fargo through the company’s Open for Business Fund,” Victor Salama, GNEC’s executive director, said in a statement. “Demand for our lending and technical assistance services to New Jersey small businesses has never been greater, and this generous commitment by Wells Fargo in support of GNEC’s mission will allow us to serve more entrepreneurs of color in northern New Jersey struggling to keep their businesses open during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Wells Fargo launched the Open for Business Fund this summer as part of a $400 million recovery effort to help entrepreneurs in the wake of the COVID-related shutdowns.

“Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund is another avenue of support and enlists the expertise of our CDFI partners at UCEDC and GNEC to urgently help diverse North Jersey entrepreneurs recover and preserve the jobs they provide in their communities,” Tomas Porturas, Wells Fargo’s vice president of social impact and sustainability, said in a statement. “The funding will funnel much-needed access to capital, equity in resources and technical assistance for local businesses who are the backbone of our local economies and neighborhoods.”

The initial round of grants will allocate $28 million to nonprofit community development groups, aimed at empowering Black- and minority-owned small businesses, which have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

“I applaud Wells Fargo for recognizing the value of New Jersey’s diverse small business community to our local economy, and especially during these unprecedented times,” Carlos Medina, CEO and president of the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, said in a statement. “These small business owners often face unique barriers, including access to capital and technical assistance. Investing in these communities is a smart bet.”