Newark, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez last week sat down with minority small business owners from across New Jersey and leaders from the African American Chamber of Commerce of NJ (AACCNJ) and the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of NJ (SHCCNJ) in continuation of his Jersey Jobs Tour, in which the senator has directly engaged with the state’s various business sectors to discuss ways to grow the economy and create jobs.
“As a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee that deals with all tax and trade policy, I continue to try to create opportunities for minority-owned small businesses throughout New Jersey and across the country,” said Sen. Menendez. “Minority-owned small businesses help boost the local economy, produce jobs and promote diversity in the state. After hearing from business leaders firsthand, I am even more prepared to go back to Washington and continue advocating on behalf of New Jersey small business owners.”
During the meeting, multiple business leaders voiced their frustration dealing with and receiving help from various federal agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the General Services Administration.
Sen. Menendez proposed hosting a workshop where small business leaders can raise their questions and concerns with the administrators of federal agencies. This proposal was well received amongst the participants and both Chamber’s offered to conduct a survey to their organizations to identify which federal agencies they would like to have a chance to meet with.
In 2016, Sen. Menendez hosted an Empowerment Summit to connect New Jerseyans with federal agencies and service providers. This comprehensive engagement featured panel discussions on economic empowerment, affordable housing and sustainable homeownership, community economic development, empowering Veterans, social justice, healthcare and preventive care, and education empowerment.
Roundtable participants reflected New Jersey’s diversity, and included African-American, Hispanic and South Asian business owners:
“As the voice of the 119,000 Hispanic Owned businesses that call New Jersey home we are grateful for Senator Menendez and all he is doing in Washington to make starting and growing a business easier for all residents in New Jersey,” said Carlos Medina, Chairman of the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of NJ. “We feel the meeting today was very beneficial and look forward to working in collaboration with the Senator’s office to help both our members and all businesses in New Jersey.”
“We are grateful to Senator Menendez and his team for providing our members a forum to foster a relationship with their US Senator,” said John Harmon, Founder and President of the African American Chamber of Commerce of NJ. “It is through these exchanges that we lay the foundations to improve our standing in order to make a better tomorrow for others.”
Sen. Menendez cited his commitment to advocating for Community Development Financial Institutions, which he believes “can be engines and opportunities of leverage.” The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 established a $30 billion lending fund to provide capital in order to promote economic growth and create jobs in distressed communities.
Last month, Sens. Menendez and Cory Booker announced that two New Jersey CDFI’s would receive a total of $110 million to attract private investment and spur economic activity in low income communities throughout the state. This federal tax credit builds public-private development partnerships by helping to leverage greater private-sector investments than would otherwise be possible.
In a blow to small businesses, President Trump recently proposed a budget that eliminates funding for the CDFI Fund’s discretionary grant and direct loan programs by $234 million dollars.
As part of his Jersey Jobs Tour, Sen. Menendez is meeting with business owners, entrepreneurs, workers, students, and local leaders in each of the state’s 21 counties to discuss how to drive innovation, create greater economic opportunity, and deliver prosperity to the people of New Jersey.
The senator recently visited Corgi Distillery, the first and only craft distillery in Hudson County to see their operations firsthand and how New Jersey’s burgeoning craft beverage industry could benefit from legislation that he cosponsored that will help spur the local economy and grow jobs.
The senator also toured the construction site of the new Stockton University Atlantic City Campus to see how the future residential campus will serve as a catalyst for growth by increasing educational opportunities and creating a highly-skilled workforce to meet the demands of a new economy.
He also explored new innovative, high-tech workspaces in Kearny and Holmdel, met with local fishermen at the Jersey Shore, visited the world’s largest vertical farm in Newark, and spent time at a job training center in Elizabeth where he announced new legislation to create a direct jobs pipeline between community colleges and employers looking to hire.