County re-authorizes Bergen Business Resource Network partnership and announces new Small Business Grant Program

HACKENSACK, NJ – On Tuesday, July 26, Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco announced two new measures to provide additional support for small businesses in an effort to fight inflation and further strengthen the County’s strong economic position.

When announcing these two measures, Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco stated, “In Bergen County, small business is the heart of both our economy and community. My administration remains committed to doing everything in its power to help the backbone of our economy not only sustain their economic position, but also experience new growth so they can truly thrive in a 21st century economy.”

The first measure will reauthorize a new $235,000 round of funding to Bergen Community College to continue an initiative that provides free consulting and real-time data services to small businesses as part of the Bergen Business Resource Network. The program offers Bergen Community College business students real world experience serving as the first point of contact for small businesses seeking assistance. Tasks include assisting business owners with a data tool, known as “SizeUp,” that breaks down how a business compares against their competition within a specific industry, and referring business owners to various partners in the network including the Small Business Development Center at Ramapo College, SCORE, NJEDA and more. Students also provide social media and web service support, while helping connect business owners with free consultants through Bergen Business Resource Network partners during consultations. To date, the program has assisted over 200 businesses.

Speaking on the success of the partnership, Bergen Community College President Dr. Eric Friedman said, “I’m grateful that our Bergen County government partners have embraced the opportunity to collaborate on economic development work. This program represents a living, breathing example of the importance of partnership between education and government for the betterment of community and the workforce. I’m especially proud of our students, who are using what they have learned to make a demonstrated impact in the communities we live, and to make a positive impact on our county’s businesses. The County’s continued support - both through advocacy and grant funds - have helped make the College an engine firing on all cylinders for economic development in Bergen County.”

Tedesco also announced that the County will be rolling out a new small business grant program in early September. Under this new program, the County will provide $2.5 million to local small businesses with priority given to businesses registered with the state as Women Business Enterprise, Minority Business Enterprise, Veteran-Owned Small Business, and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business. Individual businesses meeting the criteria will be eligible for up to $2,500 per applicant. Further details are set to be announced in late August.

Tedesco unveiled both measures at a recent Bergen County Economic Development forum to recognize success stories of the 2020 Bergen County CARES Small Business Grant Program and the first group of Bergen Community College students who served as facilitators for the Bergen Business Resource Network. These two announcements build upon substantial action already taken by the County’s Economic Development team over the past two years to brunt the financial impact of the pandemic and further enhance opportunities for overall economic growth in Bergen County. In 2020, the County rolled out several phases of the Bergen County CARES Small Business Grant Program, providing relief to businesses with 30 employees or less by allowing them to apply for funding to cover rent, property mortgage, and utilities expenses. Over the duration of the program, $55.6 million dollars were allocated to nearly 4,000 Bergen County businesses employing nearly 80,000 people. Then earlier this summer, the County unveiled the Bergen County Economic Resiliency Advisory Committee, bringing together industry leaders to identify options, alternatives, and recommendations to maintain our County’s position of economic strength and build upon it for sustainable growth.

“The engine of our local economy are the more than 47,000 small businesses who call Bergen County home,” said Commissioner Chairwoman Tracy Zur. “Both of these measures will provide no-cost critical assistance to help these businesses thrive and expand, open the door for start-ups businesses, and attract businesses from outside Bergen County. I applaud the County Executive for continuing to find ways to make Bergen County a great place to live, work, and raise a family.”

Both new programs will be funded utilizing federal American Rescue Act monies.

Photo Caption: County officials with BCC student facilitators for the Bergen Business Resource Network at a recent Bergen County Economic Development forum in Hackensack

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