EDA board action helps small businesses overcome barriers to success
Action taken by the Board of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) in July allows for the continuation of a strategic partnership with UCEDC, a statewide not-for-profit economic development corporation. The partnership helps to extend the state’s reach to underserved businesses and communities and expands the array of training and technical assistance services available to New Jersey entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Through a competitive Request for Proposal (RFP) process, the Board approved a new contract between the EDA and UCEDC, which helps New Jersey businesses start, grow and thrive through procurement, technical assistance and innovative lending programs.
“Small businesses are critical to the state’s economy,” said EDA Chief Executive Officer Melissa Orsen. “Our partnership with UCEDC has allowed us to help businesses in a comprehensive way, from financial literacy programs and training workshops to guidance in the development of business plans—all steps that help to ensure a business will succeed.”
UCEDC offers a wide variety of free and low-cost training workshops, including a series of courses that help develop financial and business literacy for business owners at all stages of maturation and a comprehensive program that walks entrepreneurs through all aspects of starting a business, culminating in the development of a business plan. UCEDC also offers a range of financing vehicles. In addition to its strategic partnership, EDA also provided a $250,000 loan to UCEDC last year to help boost its lending capacity.
In 2014 alone, UCEDC trained or mentored more than 1,700 entrepreneurs, conducted 55 business training workshops and provided $4.1 million in loans to 45 small businesses—40 percent of which were minority- or woman-owned enterprises.
“We are delighted to continue our longstanding partnership with the EDA, which has helped us make our programs available to more New Jersey businesses, enabling them to expand and create jobs in the state,” said Maureen Tinen, President, UCEDC.
Through the RFP process, the EDA first formed its partnership with UCEDC in 2008. UCEDC was selected again in 2011 for the second, three year contract award.
Orsen noted that the EDA’s partnership with UCEDC is part of the state’s ongoing commitment to supporting small business growth, which also includes dedicated programs that increase access to capital and offer competitive financing to businesses that may not qualify for traditional bank financing.
Through the Loans to Lenders Program, the EDA makes capital available to financial intermediary organizations that can effectively reach small businesses in local markets, including micro-lenders and Community Development Financial Organizations (CDFIs). These organizations have the ability to offer term loans and lines of credit to micro-enterprises and small companies not qualified for traditional bank financing.
Since 2010, the EDA has provided a total of $5.5 million to five CDFIs, including the $250,000 loan to UCEDC. In addition, the Greater Newark Enterprises Corporation (GNEC), New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC), Community Business Assistance Corporation (CBAC) and Regional Business Assistance Corporation (RBAC) have also received assistance. Of the businesses supported with these funds to date, more than 50 percent are minority- or woman-owned.
The Small Business Fund provides financial assistance to qualified businesses through direct loans, participations or guarantees, with fixed interest rates. The EDA also partners with New Jersey’s banking community through its Premier Lender Program, which helps to lower the cost of borrowing for small businesses. Bond financing is also available for qualified manufacturers and not-for-profit organizations.
The EDA is part of the state’s results-driven Partnership for Action. Created by Governor Christie and led by Lt. Governor Guadagno, the Partnership is the hub for all economic development activity in New Jersey and is comprised of four interconnected and highly focused organizational elements: Choose New Jersey, the Business Action Center, the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education and the EDA.
To learn more about opportunities for business growth throughout New Jersey, visit the state’s business portal at www.NewJerseyBusiness.gov or call the Business Action Center at (866) 534-7789.