Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Gabriela Mosquera and Jerry Green to expand the scope and reach of small, women-owned and minority-owned businesses throughout New Jersey by providing loans through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority gained Assembly approval on Thursday.
“Loans and investment capital are harder to come by for women- and minority-owned businesses, which puts these businesses at a disadvantage from the start,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “This legislation helps level the playing field and allows small, women-owned and minority-owned businesses to take advantage of loans that can help them sustain and build up their businesses.”
“Small businesses are critical to the strength of local economies,” said Green (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). “Expanding opportunities for small, women-owned and minority-owned businesses not only helps these businesses thrive, but contributes to the stability of the communities where they operate.”
“Businesses owned by women and minorities lag behind in revenue, which means these businesses do not have enough to invest and grown their businesses,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Expanding the loans that women and minority business owners can apply for can help reverse this.”
Under the bill (A-1451), in the event that the Economic Development Authority begins making direct loans to small, women-owned and minority-owned businesses, manufacturers, redevelopers or nonprofit organizations in areas designated by the State Development and Redevelopment Plan as urban centers, it must also include such businesses located in “regional centers” surrounding these urban areas.
Accordingly, qualified businesses in regional centers or metropolitan planning areas would be permitted to receive direct loans under a program by the EDA entitled the “Urban Plus Program.”
The Urban Plus Program provides financial support in the form of loans from the EDA with a below-market interest rate to qualified community and economic development projects, manufacturers, redevelopers and not-for-profit organizations in the following endorsed New Jersey municipalities: Camden, Trenton, Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, New Brunswick, Asbury Park and Atlantic City.
Under this bill, small, women-owned and minority-owned businesses in the following surrounding regional centers would now qualify for loans: North Wildwood City, West Wildwood Borough, Wildwood City, Millville City, Vineland City, Princeton Borough, Princeton Township, Long Branch City, Red Bank Borough, Dover Town, Morristown, Stafford Township, Salem City, Bridgewater Township, Somerville, Raritan Borough, Newton, Cape May Court House, Ocean City, Middle Township, Bridgeton City and Woolwich.
A “qualified business” is defined in the bill as a business that is established by the EDA as a small, woman-owned, or minority-owned New Jersey-based business, manufacturer, redeveloper or non-profit organization that is unable to obtain funding from conventional sources, notwithstanding the assistance of an EDA guarantee.
The bill now awaits further Senate consideration.