Powering New Jersey’s renewable energy economy through innovation and small business incubation

As leaders at the forefront of small business and innovation, we are excited about the potential transformative impact of the Attentive Energy Two offshore wind project on the state’s economic landscape. New Jersey, with its rich history of innovation, from Thomas Edison to Bell Labs, has long been a powerhouse in fostering economic development through innovative ideas and technologies. Today, the growth of renewable energy as a response to a changing climate provides an opportunity to enhance the Garden State’s economy.

By focusing on partnerships that foster a local supply chain, incubate new ideas and empower small businesses, Attentive Energy Two is not just a wind energy project; it is a catalyst for sustainable growth, job creation and technological advancement.  Just as the state of New Jersey has committed to a “State of Innovation,” underscoring that the state’s ingenuity is made possible by a commitment to diverse people, ideas and businesses, we are inspired by the vision of Attentive Energy Two reinforcing New Jersey’s legacy as a hub for progress.

Recent statistics underscore the critical role of small businesses in New Jersey’s economy. Small businesses are significant contributors, stimulating critical economic activity and providing job opportunities. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, New Jersey is home to over 953,000 small businesses, which represent 99.6% of all businesses in the state. Nearly 2 million employees (about the population of Nebraska), which are over 49% of all employees in New Jersey, are employed by a small business.

By partnering with the Attentive Energy Two offshore wind project, our organizations are nurturing homegrown talent and businesses and fostering a robust supply chain. The partnerships with SeaAhead and the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers represent a strategic alliance that aligns with New Jersey’s historic role in pioneering innovation.

The $6.6 million investment to anchor SeaAhead’s operations in New Jersey stands out as a cornerstone of Attentive Energy Two. This commitment aims to launch a cross-sector innovation cluster, deliver clean energy pilots and promote equity and access in innovation. The partnership will catalyze bluetech startup growth, engaging stakeholders and conducting pilot projects, which will drive innovation and economic growth in the state. This was on display when SeaAhead brought several startup ventures to visit Brookdale Community College in November to discuss advancements and new ideas in ocean monitoring, pollution reduction and low carbon port operations, representing a sampling of the blue economy themes SeaAhead focuses on.

Equally significant is the $4 million investment directed toward supporting small and diverse businesses through NJSBDC. The partnership will target women, minority, veterans and LGBTQ businesses with technical assistance to give them a step up with doing business on this project. This commitment to inclusivity ensures that the benefits of the offshore wind industry are accessible to a diverse range of entrepreneurs, fostering a more equitable and prosperous future for our state.

As we look ahead to the next round of New Jersey offshore wind projects, we are optimistic that a focus on incubating new ideas through new ventures will serve as a model for groundbreaking economic development, setting the stage for a cleaner and more prosperous future for the Garden State.

Kelly Brozyna is CEO and state director of the New Jersey Small Business Development Center, and Alissa Peterson is co-founder & CEO of SeaAhead.