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Egan Jones, Kennedy & Benson Bill to Ensure Small Business Representation in EDA Clears Assembly Panel

Aiming to give small businesses an outlet to make a greater impact on economic development in New Jersey, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Patricia Egan Jones, James Kennedy and Daniel Benson to require one public member of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) to be a representative of the small business community in the State was approved Thursday by the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee.

“Small business is at the heart of New Jersey’s economy,” said Egan Jones (D-Camden, Gloucester). “We have over 800,000 small businesses in our state that employ 1.8 million people. They certainly deserve a seat at the table when it comes to our Economic Development Authority.”

The bill (A-4855) would require one public member of the EDA appointed by the Governor to be a representative of the State’s small business community. This member would replace an existing member whose term is first to expire after the effective date of the bill; the existing member would not be eligible for reappointment.

Currently, the EDA consists of the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance, the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development, the Commissioner of Environmental Protection, an officer or employee of the Executive Branch appointed by the Governor, the State Treasurer as ex-officio members, and eight public members. Two public members who are not legislators are appointed by the Governor upon recommendation by the Senate President; two by the Governor as recommended by the Assembly Speaker; and four by the Governor. Public members serve three-year terms.

“From mom-and-pop shops to online start-ups, small business is booming in New Jersey,” said Kennedy (D-Middlesex, Somerset, Union). “These businesses play a vital role in our economy, and should be fairly represented in the EDA and discussions of future development.”

“We pride ourselves in New Jersey on supporting small businesses and allowing them to flourish,” said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “Small business owners, employees, and consumers know the value this sector brings to New Jersey. A representative of the small business community will bring that same value to the EDA and offer input to make sure all businesses, big or small, can grow in our State.”

The bill now heads to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.