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Watson Coleman Bill to Boost Creation of Small, Women- & Minority- Owned Businesses Clears Assembly

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman to expand the scope and reach of small, women- and minority-owned businesses throughout New Jersey by providing loans through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority was approved Monday by the General Assembly.

“Our economy cannot thrive unless it gives everyone a chance to be successful,” said Watson Coleman (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “We are all vastly interconnected and our success as a state depends on being able to invest in both urban and outlying areas. Small, women and minority-owned businesses in surrounding urban regions where jobs are often needed the most must be a part of any economic revival.”

Under the bill (A-2122), when the Economic Development Authority makes direct loans to small, women 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.

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, Elizabeth, East Orange, New Brunswick, and Atlantic City.

Under this bill, small, women – and minority- owned businesses in the following surrounding regional centers would now qualify for loans: Ocean City, Wildwoods, Bridgeton, Millville/Vineland, Woolwich, the Princetons, Long Branch, Red Bank, Stafford Twp, Salem City, Bridgewater-Raritan and Newton.

“Everybody must be involved if we’re to truly build a strong economy,” added Watson Coleman. “With this simple and commonsense change, we can ensure that the benefits of an improved economy reach all types of New Jersey’s business in broad areas throughout our state.”

The bill was approved 60-14-3 by the Assembly and now awaits further consideration by the Senate.