Invest Newark launching Black Bunker, program that aims to connect MWBEs to government contracts

Newark economic development group also bringing back Financial Fridays, Language of Capital

The Black Bunker program, an initiative designed to help minority business owners to explore and navigate the intricacies of government contracting, was launched Wednesday by Invest Newark.

The program aims to help businesses better understand government buyers, how to respond to government solicitations and Requests for Proposals, and how to apply for certifications. Invest Newark officials feel the program will benefit thousands of minority-owned businesses.

The first Black Bunker session will take place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. All Black Bunker sessions will be conducted virtually via Zoom (linked here).

Black Bunker is just one of the programs being launched by Invest Newark, the city’s economic development arm.

  • Financial Fridays: Invest Newark is bringing back the popular program, starting Feb. 25. The lunch-and-learn event will focus on tax resolution and tax tips for businesses. There are many small businesses in Newark working toward becoming tax compliant, but which don’t know where to start. Invest Newark will bring two local accounting firms to help guide these businesses on the basics of taxes, best practices, financial reporting and tax resolution.
  • Language of Capital: Invest Newark will partner with local banks to present an eight-week series educating businesses on best practices regarding applying for loans and mortgages and preparing business plans and strategies. The program is divided into language cohorts; the current cohort is in English, with Valley Bank. The next cohort will be in Spanish, with TD Bank, starting in March. And, in April, there will be a Portuguese cohort, also with Valley Bank. Language of Capital opens the doors for Newark businesses that have previously struggled with language barriers, providing a more equitable, diverse business environment for the city. Businesses that successfully participate in a cohort will be eligible to apply for a Business Development Grant ranging from $500 to $1,500.

Roy Southerland, the interim CEO of Invest Newark, said he is thrilled to add the programs.

“We know that Newark thrives when its businesses thrive,” he said. “We couldn’t be more excited to launch the Black Bunker program and to bring back Financial Fridays and the Language of Capital programs.

“Minority-owned businesses have struggled immensely over the past two years. Newark witnessed a drop of close to $100 million in local consumer spending and a loss of nearly 16,000 jobs. These programs are designed to support local, minority-owned and -run businesses as they recover from the COVID pandemic, and better prepare them for tomorrow’s economy.”