Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Raj Mukherji, Sheila Oliver, Elizabeth Muoio and Eric Houghtaling to help spur the creation of small businesses and empower individuals with the tools to become self-sustaining entrepreneurs gained approval from the General Assembly on Monday.
The bill (A-3333) would provide assistance for certain individuals who own or are starting a microenterprise business. A microenterprise is a commercial enterprise that has five or fewer employees, one or more of whom owns the enterprise.
“The majority of businesses in this country are microbusinesses, making it critical that we invest in this sector in order to boost our lagging economy,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “We have to ensure that individuals interested in opening a microbusiness, or who already own one, have the proper tools and support to succeed. Not only will this spur job creation, it also will empower individuals to invest in their communities, which can spark revitalization in communities that have languished for too long.”
According to a report from the Corporation for Enterprise Development, very small businesses, or microenterprises, represent more than 80 percent of all businesses in the country, and are a key job creation strategy in communities with weak job prospects. But many of these business owners lack the resources needed to successfully start and grown their businesses. The Aspen Institute estimates that there are 20 million Americans who operate microenterprises, and that at least half of these micro-entrepreneurs, including women, minorities, low-income individuals and people with disabilities, face disadvantages in establishing and operating their own businesses.
“For many entrepreneurs, starting a business – no matter how small – and working hard to make it flourish is the ultimate dream,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “It’s critical that we provide these New Jerseyans with the tools they need to make that dream a reality. Empowering founders of microenterprises will also encourage self-sufficiency, cut into unemployment and create jobs in our communities.”
“New Jersey’s small businesses don’t just benefit their owners. They lift communities up by providing opportunities where there otherwise may be none,” said Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic). “As entrepreneurs in New Jersey look to be a source of support for their communities, it’s important for the state to be a source of support for these business owners.”
“Small businesses create jobs that provide people with income, but they’re so much more than that. They’re the pathway to the sense of dignity that comes with putting in a hard day’s work. That’s what so many men and women in New Jersey want most,” said Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “By helping launch more microenterprises in New Jersey, our state can play a role in empowering residents seeking quality employment opportunities.”
“So many people in New Jersey have the will and resolve to be business owners, but they just don’t know how to navigate what can be an overwhelming process,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). “With the right training and resources, the state can transform men and women with good ideas and a spirit of entrepreneurship into job creators.”
The bill would amend the counseling requirements to be offered at One Stop Career Centers to include an evaluation of an individual’s ability to engage in self-employment training, information about self-employment training opportunities and information about the success of past participants in such training. The bill also would clarify that individuals seeking to embark upon microenterprise self-employment ventures will be counseled by qualified business counselors rather than qualified job counselors.
Under the bill, the Department of Community Affairs must give emphasis to certain business entity project applications cited in the bill seeking Neighborhood Tax Credit Program eligibility. A business entity is eligible for a tax credit certificate under the program if it provides funding for a department-approved project.
The bill received unanimous Assembly approval. It now awaits further Senate consideration.