Aiming to help promising small businesses grow and thrive in New Jersey, legislation from Assemblywoman Joann Downey and Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling creating the Economic Gardening Program was advanced Monday by an Assembly committee.
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of communities throughout the state. Many remember the business owner who gave them their first after-school job or sponsored their Little League team. When small businesses succeed, the entire community succeeds,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “Taking action to bolster Main Streets in New Jersey is about lifting up municipalities statewide.”
The bill (A-1104) would establish the “Economic Gardening Program,” a program modeled after the Louisiana Economic Development's Economic Gardening Initiative which provides Louisiana-based small businesses with the information they need and succeed.
The Economic Gardening Program would be under the Department of State and provide, free of charge, market research and qualified sales leads, a review of a business’s core strategies and advice on building a brand online. The measure would allow the state’s Business Action Center to partner with business assistance organizations to provide customized services that can help small businesses grow.
“New Jersey’s small business owners embody the spirit of hard work and perseverance that makes our state great,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). “By equipping small businesses with the tools they need to compete, our state can ensure that they stay and prosper here in New Jersey.”
To qualify for the program, a business must:
- Have maintained its principal place of business in New Jersey for at least the last two years;
- Have annual total revenues between $600,000 and $50 million;
- Employ a minimum of five and a maximum of 100 full-time employees in New Jersey;
- Demonstrate growth, in revenue, jobs or both, in two of the last five years;
- Be able to deliver products and services outside of its local market area;
- Operate in a target industry;
- Be organized for profit to perform a lawful, commercial function.
The bill would require the Business Action Center to report annually to the governor and the legislature on the functioning of the program.
The measure was released by the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee.