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Cyber Intelligence Briefing: Understanding Blockchain and its Impact | NJSBDC @ Ramapo College of New Jersey
Thu, April 26, 2018
4:00 PM – 7:00 PM EDT
Ramapo College of New Jersey/ Small Business Development Center
505 Ramapo Valley Road
Mahwah, NJ 07430
Regardless of the price of Bitcoin, Blockchain technology is here to stay.Which businesses are left standing will likely come down to how well companies are able to adapt. The total market capitalization for the world’s crypto-currencies, led by Bitcoin on Blockchain, is more than $100 Billion. Soon to be disrupted industries will include Financial Services, Healthcare, Aviation, Global Logistics and Shipping, Transportation, Music, Manufacturing, Security, Media, Identity, Automotive, Land Use and Government, and more.
Intelligence Briefing Includes:
- What exactly is Blockchain technology
- How this new era in technology has the potential to change the business world
- Why is this technology powering crypto-currencies like Bitcoin
- Top industries impacted by Blockchain
- What you should be considering before Blockchain disrupts your industry
Who Should Attend?
- Business Owners, Operations & System Administrators
- Entrepreneurs, Educators and Elected Officials
- Anyone interested in learning about the future of Blockchain technology
191 Pennsylvania Avenue
Paterson, NJ 07055
Ann Marie Belasco and son Anthony are the owners of Dingman’s Dairy in Paterson, NJ. The company currently employs 50 men and women in sales, office, customer service, warehouse, and delivery positions. The Dingman family opened the business in 1955, and sold it to the current owners in 2007. Since the purchase, Dingman’s Dairy has grown from 4 delivery trucks to 17, and sales have increased five-fold.
As its name might imply, Dingman’s Dairy is a distributor of ice cream, ice cream mix, frozen yogurt, frozen desserts, cones, toppings, syrups, inclusions, sprinkles, paper goods and other related products. Customers include ice cream parlors, yogurt shops, restaurants, catering facilities, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and convenience stores. Major and more notable customers include Bodegas, Dairy Queen, Met Life Stadium, Sesame Place, Miami Seaquarium, Great Adventure, Jones Beach (NY), Santa Cruz Boardwalk (CA), local carnivals, the New Jersey State Fair, and many special events in the tri-state area.
In 2016, the Belascos contacted the NJSBDC at William Paterson University for counseling on a variety of important business matters. Since 70 percent of Dingman’s business is generated from April through September, discussions revolved around ideas to generate more business during the October to March time frame. Brainstorming topics included: Company acquisitions; new product categories; expansion of business to the Long Island, NYC metropolitan and Manhattan areas; sales process improvement; social media advertising; online ordering; enhanced distribution strategies; and other ideas on the Belasco’s agenda. “The SBDC,” according to the owners, “has been a sounding board, strategy advisor and business counselor to us over the past year on a variety of matters important to our growth and stability of the business.”
With the Center’s help and advice, Dingman’s expects to grow the business 15 percent in 2018 by adding new product categories, expanding sales areas, new sales personnel, and better marketing strategies. They are also adding a marketing specialist and hiring other personnel. Of great importance is the fact that the Belascos recently purch-ased land adjacent to company headquarters. The company will be building a state-of-the art distribution center to further enhance customer services and bolster product and sales growth opportunities.
20 Irven Street
Ewing, NJ 08638
Founded in 1982 by Harry Stout III, two generations of family management and an exceptional employee base at Stout’s Transportation are driving the future of motor coach travel in the Northeast. Company President, Tim Stout, along with brothers, Shawn, who heads business development for the medical transportation division, and Harry, Stout’s safety director, manage the 100-plus employee, family-owned business. This ground transportation and tour operation business has been built on talents, skills, and a team of a well-seasoned staff, augmented by a cutting-edge fleet and a customer-focused culture that positions their brand ahead of their competition.
The 60-year Trenton-based Stout’s has locations throughout the state of New Jersey and serves key markets within the tri-state New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania area. Their predominantly Van Hool fleet consists of 76 vehicles: 38- to 56-passenger motor coaches for tour and charter excursions; 29-passenger shuttle transport vehicles; 16- to 20-passenger para-transit specialty vehicles for private contract service, and DOT-approved, school and transit buses.
Since 2015, Stout has worked with the NJSBDC at TCNJ consultants, receiving assistance and training in a wide range of areas and services, including: Financial recordkeeping design and reports; financial report analysis using QuickBooks; digital media/website design and marketing; catalog design and marketing; company branding; and extensive industry/ geographic/demographic/psychographic market research. The NJSBDC at TCNJ is proud to have served as a “go to” feedback resource for Stout’s Transportation on operational issues from marketing to financial operational issues.
As the business evolves, Stout’s leadership continues to focus on best business practices and technology improvements that will enhance operational efficiencies. Their latest implementation of the Zonar fleet management mobile platform is critical in helping the company remotely monitor fleet and driver performance, and enhance fleet maintenance. Additionally, the system supports automated processes, effectively reducing paperwork and record storage, which are also key priorities within Stout’s “green culture.” Their state-of-the-art 8,000-square-foot office building features energy-efficient utilities and an environmentally friendly heating system utilizing waste oil as fuel.
With a strong and growing infrastructure, healthy market share, and sales and marketing efforts focused on new and emerging markets, the company is actively seeking growth, and the timing is perfect for acquisition. Stout’s Transportation has positioned itself as a leader in the transportation industry, well prepared for the next 60 years of growth and expansion.
Thomas & Michael Brennan
6525 Ventnor Avenue
Ventnor, NJ 08406
As food critics have already pointed out, when you combine a father with thirty-plus years of experience in the hospitality industry with an award winning chef for a son, the result is Cardinal Bistro in Ventnor, “a promising new BYOB from a young talent that Shore goers are going to love.”
Thomas Brennan started his career as a busboy in Smithville. After earning his bachelor’s in Business Administration from what was then Stockton State College, he began a successful career that included managing restaurants, working in casino accounting departments, and working as the Director of Food and Beverage services. These positions allowed Tom to hone his skills in designing, planning and opening new restaurants, an endeavor he and son, Mike, decided to undertake together in 2015.
While at college in Philadelphia, Michael Brennan walked into Le Bec Fin and applied for a job, never imagining his need for employment would lead to a bourgeoning career as a chef. Determination and dedication enabled Mike to go from bussing tables to hosting at another legendary restaurant in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square, where Mike gained his food prep skills and knowledge. In 2012, Mike entered The Culinary Institute of America, where he trained alongside the best chef instructors in the country. Upon graduation, Michael helped open one, before moving on to another, of this booming food town’s busiest restaurants.
Meanwhile, Tom, after a short stint in retirement, decided to open one more restaurant. A phone call later, Mike was back in Philadelphia to help create the concept. Carla, Tom’s wife, found a little corner spot with great windows in Ventnor, NJ. With a location, chef and concept, they needed a name for the restaurant and found one honoring Tom’s late mother, who was a great lover of cardinal birds.
After meeting with Carol Waties, regional director of the NJSBDC at Stockton University, Tom and Mike emerged with a business plan that they submitted to M&T Bank. Working with Carol and M&T lender, Shannon Murphy, they obtained a loan and opened in the middle of the season to rave reviews and large crowds.
Not content to rest on good reviews, or his winning entry on Food Network’s “Cooks vs. Cons” show, Michael founded For Atlantic City By Atlantic City (4ACxAC), a group of hospitality professionals who want to see Atlantic City thrive. Part of Tom’s and Mike’s plans to grow the Cardinal Bistro brand include expanding its footprint, and enhancing the dining experience by incorporating food and spirits.
Greycell Labs, Inc.
Dharmesh & Shweta Vachhani
190 Lincoln Highway, Suite 201
Edison, NJ 08820
Greycell Labs, Inc. was established in 2004. They are a leading IT firm that provides a variety of technology-based services and solutions including IT consulting, business and technology services, custom software design, development, testing, deployment, and integration support to fulfill the needs of local, regional and global corporations of any size. Greycell offers a suite of software services to help their clients increase process efficiency; enhance workforce productivity; reduce operating costs; boost employee and customer satisfaction; and enable better and faster decisions.
Greycell’s owners, Dharmesh and Shweta Vachhani, have been clients of the NJSBDC at Rutgers New Brunswick since 2014. They were initially counseled regarding government contracting and certification as SBE, MBE, WBE and 8A businesses. They have regularly participated in Center workshops, seminars and other programs to help their business grow and prosper. More recently, the Center helped the firm develop its social media outreach, engaged the Vachhanis in its Managing Growth Ventures and other experiential learning programs.
The firm has grown exponentially in both their domestic sales as well as their expansion into global markets. The Vachhanis now have 50 employees and have doubled their sales over the last two years. In fact, Greycell has been recognized as one of the fastest growing firms in the USA. They were also ranked as #139 among the fastest growing firms out of 500 in New Jersey. Greycell has recently established a development center in India, which will be the headquarters for their Mobile Apps and Cloud/Big Data services. They are working on expanding the company’s presence in other countries as well.
Mr. Vachhani sums up his experience and success in just a few words: “Everyone dreams. Ninety-nine percent do not start due to fear of failure. The rest change the world. It is truly wonderful to have resources like the SBDC to help accomplish your dreams.”
DoveLin Enterprises, Inc
Mary Lindsay & Franklin Dove, Jr.
417 Bloomfield Drive
West Berlin, NJ 08091
DoveLin Enterprises, Inc. is a commercial flooring company established October 7, 2014 by owners Mary Lindsay and Franklin Dove, Jr. The company provides flooring services to general contractors, hospitals, health service building, colleges/universities, public and private schools, retail stores, office buildings and multi-purpose/multi-family dwellings. Gymnasiums and indoor track are the projects that have particularly received high praise from their customers.
DoveLin holds women’s owned business certifications through the NJ WBE and the WBENC. The company is also a standing contractor of Floor Layers Local 251 on the East Coast, whose members make up DoveLin’s workforce, which ranges between 15 and 42 employees, depending upon the size of the project and peak work times.
To honor their success, DoveLin is always seeking ways to give back to the community. Along with their employees, the company has donated services to the PAL Organization in Philadelphia and local Christian Schools in New Jersey.
In March 2016, DoveLin sought the advice of the NJSBDC at Rutgers Camden. The owners had hit a roadblock in pursuit of financing. While the business was growing, it was difficult for a business with less than two years in operation to secure the funds necessary to bid on major projects. The Rutgers Camden SBDC stepped in, and according to Mary, “assisted to secure funding which allowed us to bid on high profile projects for several contractors, commercial businesses and retail centers such as Wal-Mart. SBDC consultants developed cash flow projections to support loan requests, loan package development and advised on operational processes and human resources.”
The business has gained a stellar industry reputation in a very short time. They have grown rapidly since 2015 with sales increasing by 60 percent in 2017. The Rutgers-Camden Center continues to service DoveLin as they expand and enjoy the success that excellent customer service and quality workmanship bring.
Great American Sealcoating
81 Chimney Rock Road
Bridgewater, NJ 08807
After 29 years of commuting into New York City and working long hours as a chef, Tim Smeltz was ready for a change. Inspiration came when he couldn’t find a local company to sealcoat his driveway. After investigating, Smeltz purchased an American Asphalt Sealcoating franchise in 2006.
Although new to self-employment, he knew he needed a business plan and contacted the NJSBDC at RVCC. Counselors Vicki Lynne Morgan and Karen Katcher helped him develop a business plan, and counselor Bob Bilarczyk helped with his certification as a NJ Small Business Enterprise (SBE).
Because sealcoating is a seasonal business, Smeltz quickly encountered a critical challenge: Retaining valued employees during the off-season. His solution? He bought a residential decorating business franchise, Christmas Décor, in 2007, to provide employment year-round. Since then he has successfully expanded his Christmas Décor’s Somerset County territory to include Hunterdon and Morris counties in New Jersey and Bucks County in Pennsylvania.
In 2009, another opportunity presented itself when a prospective sealcoating client who owned a daycare center specified that any sealcoating on his property must not contain coal tar, a suspected carcinogenic. Knowing this was a growing concern, Tim decided to break from his franchise and venture off on his own to find a better, safer product. It was a big decision, so he met with Regional Director Bill Harnden several times to discuss his options. During this period, he discovered a company using an innovative sealcoating mixture; bought exclusive rights to the product; and further developed it to meet his needs. With a new formula, solid infrastructure and seasoned employees, he was ready to create his new business–and the Great American Sealcoating Company was born. In 2017, Smeltz returned to the SBDC at RVCC to learn about financing options for expansion into New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania. As a result, he and Bill Harnden are meeting with several SBA lenders to develop a loan package.
With his innovative, problem-solving approach, and willingness to venture into new areas, coupled with the counseling services of the SBDC, Tim Smeltz has grown from a single, local operation with sales of $200,000 to a dual-business, multi-state enterprise with eleven employees and sales of over $1 million. Concerning the support he has received over the years from the SBDC at RVCC, Smeltz says, “It is exceptionally nice to have a resource that can help me grow and act as a sounding board when making important business decisions.” With firm plans in place for improving, growing and innovating, Smeltz is paving the way for continued business success — and the SBDC at RVCC looks forward to assisting him in reaching his goals.
Hafco Foundry and Machine, Inc.
Basil Fornaci & Billy Fornaci
301 Greenwood Avenue
Midland Park, NJ 07432
Hafco Foundry and Machine, Inc. is a distributor of metal castings and machined parts to the rail industry, and manufacturer of industrial pneumatic vacuums and dust equipment for the coal mining industry. Founded in 1969, the company is managed today by co-presidents and brothers, Basil and Billy Fornaci, who are the third generation owners. Over its many years in business, Hafco experienced steady and consistent growth, achieving over $6 million in annual sales.
In September 2015, Basil’s and Billy’s father and Chief Executive Officer, Michael Fornaci, unexpectedly passed away. With no written succession agreement in place, Michael Fornaci’s widow became the default owner, and placed her trust in a law firm which cared only for her personal gain, and not the business or its employees. Having cast the brothers’ uncle and Chief Financial Officer, William Fornaci as an adversarial party, instead of the next rightful president, the company’s future was anything but certain. Suddenly, in March 2016, William passed away before any ownership rights were transferred.
Basil and Billy took control of day-to-day operations, while also reviewing a draft of an agreement, proposed by these same lawyers, written to cover the ownership and define the future operations of the company. It was at this point that Billy reached out to the NJSBDC.
Vince Vicari, regional director of the NJSBDC at Ramapo, assigned the Hafco case to Jim Palumbo, whose experience and knowledge has been a perfect fit for the company’s immediate needs. At the very first meeting, Jim pointed out some significant flaws with the agreement, which was then re-written based on his recommendations. Basil and Billy were quick to realize that you simply cannot only take business advice from lawyers and accountants. The SBDC also later connected Hafco with a law firm that would serve more as a neutral party, drafting the formal agreements and handling the transfer of ownership.
Advice from Jim, an experienced and skilled businessperson, turned out to be invaluable for Hafco. In fact, he truly saved the company from what could have been a disastrous agreement. Over the past year and a half, Jim Palumbo has helped to transform Basil and Billy from family business employees to confident and knowledgeable business owners. Beyond day-to-day operations, they’ve learned to create a business plan, generate yearly and quarterly budgets, and forecast the company’s sales. More importantly, they’ve realized the value of implementing all of these business tools and strategies.
Today, Jim and the SBDC at Ramapo continue to advise Hafco in areas such as human resources, distribution agreements, marketing plans, customer relations, inventory management, etc. Going forward, Basil and Billy will continue to implement these new skills and knowledge, and carry on Hafco’s legacy of success.
Massage Heights of Morristown
David Shawger & Dale Carmody
40 West Park Place, Suite 7
Morristown, NJ 07960
Dale Carmody and David Shawger contacted Northwest NJSBDC with an idea to start a business by combining their resources (dollars and know-how). The search began by identifying several franchise opportunities that would interest them and fit their business approach. They soon settled upon a day spa, and explored several franchise possibilities in detail before settling on Massage Heights as the optimal fit.
From the beginning, the business venture was unique in that it was entirely self-funded through personal and
“sweat” equity. The owners exude a lot of attention to details as is evidenced in every corner and crevice of their
facility. Their staff radiates a sense of professionalism and warmth rarely found in today’s business franchise model.
Northwest NJSBDC worked with the partners in the evaluation process (including site selection), reviewing documents, franchise agreements, property leases, and “partners’ agreement.” While most day spas are located in strip malls, Dave and Dale decided that an upscale downtown environment was more in harmony with their vision. It would attract the young professionals employed by Morristown firms and is consistent with the prestigious Massage Heights image. “We relied heavily on [Regional Director] Dolores Stammer’s expertise to guide us through the selection, launch and initial operations,” said Dale Carmody.
From the beginning of their relationship with Northwest NJSBDC, Dave and Dale have viewed Dolores Stammer as their strategic partner-advisor. “Whether the issue is related to marketing, human resources, finance or operations, we’ve come to rely on Northwest NJSBDC as a key resource,” said Dave. During the Grand Opening, the partners introduced Northwest NJSBDC as the single consistent resource that guided them through multiple issues inherent in a major launch of this type.
While opening just this year, Massage Heights, Morristown already employs 15 individuals. The facility is a real showpiece for the Morristown Green properties and has adapted its marketing consistent with its upscale downtown image. The partners continue to view Northwest NJSBDC as their go-to partner in the continued success of their business. “Our sales are growing consistently month-by-month and we value the role that the SBDC has played in our success.” The owners are living testimony to the Massage Heights motto of being “simply better.”
Maria Mentiras Bar & Grill, LLC
328 32nd Street
Union City, NJ 07087
Maria Gutierrez arrived in New Jersey as a teen from Medelin, Colombia. She and her family were in search of opportunity and the American Dream. Her ambition and desire for success formed at age 17, when she opened her first clothing store. Sixteen-hour workdays and two-hour bus rides became a normal routine. Long days and expensive business lessons were met with even more drive and the discipline to continue moving forward.
In 2011, Ms. Gutierrez wanted to grow her clothing business and sought the assistance of the NJSBDC at New Jersey City University. Business consultant Ryan Silvestre advised Maria on her business structure, organizational skills, time management and financial arrangements. This extra insight into her entrepreneurial efforts led to conversations about expanding and possibly purchasing a new business. With help from the NJSBDC on valuation modeling and due diligence, a decision on building a new business was made. With proper planning, and a creative debt structure, Ms. Gutierrez was able to secure the capital needed to open Maria Mentiras Bar and Grill, LLC.
Now one of Hudson County’s premier restaurants, Maria Mentiras, as the regulars endearingly call it, provides Latin fusion dishes, along with unique specialty cocktails and live music. A staple of Union City, New Jersey, Mentiras Bar & Grill draws a local crowd as well as patrons from many of the neighboring cities.
Since opening, Ms. Gutierrez has been able to create over 20 restaurant jobs, in addition to internship opportunities. Most recently, Ms. Gutierrez and the NJSBDC at NJCU have worked on a marketing and social media plan utilizing another SBDC client to assist her in its execution. NJSBDC at NJCU also assisted Maria Mentiras, LLC in upgrading from its paper method of bookkeeping to QuickBooks online. The results were greater efficiencies in time and cash flow management, which allowed her to capitalize on new business opportunities. Traditional approaches of bankability made it impossible for her to secure a commercial mortgage; however, with these interim financials, she was able to structure a private mortgage for the acquisition of two buildings for $1.2 million, and the purchase of the buildings housing her restaurant.
In addition to the success of Maria Mentiras Bar & Grill, Ms. Gutierrez continues to grow her clothing store and multiple other businesses. Her newest venture is a gourmet fast food business with franchise potential. Salsa Arepa is scheduled to open later this year at the very exclusive Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, following completion of a $250,000 construction project. This truly long-term client has collectively created over 40-plus jobs and facilitated over $2 million in capital infusion invested in her businesses. The NJSBDC at NJCU will continue to provide support and guidance as the Center assists her in developing strategic plans concerning business sustainability and expansion.
unzun House, Inc.
Integrated Learning Center, Inc.
Union, NJ 07083
Dulce Ramos is a serial entrepreneur, educator and immigrant currently residing in Union, New Jersey. Dulce’s experience emigrating from the Dominican Republic, combined with her passion for education, motivated her to open Integrated Learning Center (ILC), a company focused on providing language instruction for corporate clients since 1994.
Over the years, Dulce grew the ILC business to be very profitable, employing over a dozen people. However, as times change, the marketplace requires entrepreneurs to adapt, recreate, and often reinvent themselves. The SBDC at Kean University has been working with Dulce for several years to help her with an array of business issues in order to keep up with the dynamics of the marketplace. Since Dulce’s businesses are service-based, word of mouth and referrals proved to be a good source for generating new clients. Here again, Regional Director Dave Margulies worked with Dulce to perfect her “ask” and suggest places and events to attend for the most effective networking.
Most recently, Dulce started a new consulting business, Zunzun House, Inc., which assists entrepreneurs, not-for-profits, and growing companies in fulfilling their goals. This business seeks project work where Dulce needs to leverage relationships for introductions to potential clients.
Each of her businesses was built with the cornerstone of corporate and social good, which strengthens the community. Dulce ensures that she exceeds client expectations by providing unparalleled customer service, which leads to future projects, referrals and great references.
At the SBDC in Kean University, Dulce has found a welcoming and helping hand as she works to continue growing her businesses. From the friendly greetings she receives from the Center support staff, to the support and guidance by the center director, Dulce offers nothing but praise and admiration: “David Margulies has been working with me for several years, providing coaching in the areas of management, client acquisition, business relationships, pricing, finance, . . . and even helping me secure a position as an adjunct instructor at Kean University’s Business School. No doubt, the SBDC at Kean University provides a platform to vet my ideas, get answers and direction I wouldn’t have otherwise. I am so grateful!”
Aikido Center of Manasquan
56 Union Avenue
Manasquan, NJ 08736
Tim Vazquez is the owner and chief instructor of the Aikido Center of Manasquan. He is a retired police officer, self-defense instructor, and an NJ State licensed Security Instructor.
Tim became a client of the NJSBDC at Brookdale Community College after attending one of the center’s no-cost, high-impact Bootcamps. There was a lack of traffic to his facility (Dojo), and he needed assistance quickly. Tim did some research and found NJSBDC at Brookdale. On June 2, 2016 he took the Center’s “Social Media Bootcamp” course that took him to the next level in social marketing. He subsequently enrolled in two workshops, “Running a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign” and “Intro to Blogging,” increasing his proficiency with social media and website management.
Tim took the knowledge and skills he developed during the workshops and implemented a proactive strategy. Employing a disciplined, innovative, and consistent approach, Tim is reaping the benefits of applying all the techniques that he learned in the courses. He redesigned all his social networks and website to make them mobile compliant, and started an AdWords account with Google. He even started blogging! Did it work? A delighted Tim states “I can tell that all the steps I took resulted in new traffic to the Dojo.” Not to stop there, Tim started and launched an app that is available on Google and the Apple store – “Aikido Manasquan”!
Tim has increased traffic and sales by more than 10 percent, which for his highly competitive industry and market is exceptional. The use of online advancements, social media, and updates to his website have enabled him to continue to grow his business even when the dojo is closed.
“Thank you NJSBDC for all your help and expertise! I HIGHLY recommended anyone to attend the courses, receive guidance and counseling offered by NJSBDC at Brookdale Community College and their affiliated location Ocean County College. Is it a lot of work for anyone to re-design his or her social media? Yes, it is, but you will succeed with the help from NJSBDC!”
Arable Labs, Inc.
Adam Wolf, Ph.D.
40 North Tulane Street
Princeton, NJ 08542
Arable is a data and analytics company reducing risk in the food and agriculture supply chain. Their flagship product, the Mark, is a low-cost, highly connected solar-powered sensor that continuously and precisely measures more than 40 different, relevant data types regarding plant, light and weather conditions. The data enable farmers and agribusinesses to better assess crop status, forecast growth, predict yields and improve decision-making.
Customers are able to better manage resources in real time and make decisions that enable them to increase revenue through better forecasts of harvest timing, yield, and postharvest outcomes. The Mark hardware was designed in collaboration with the designer of the GoPro camera and Nest learning thermostat.
Company Founder Adam Wolf was a Princeton University post doctorate candidate when he participated in the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps Teams Program (I-Corps). The purpose of the program is to identify National Science Foundation/NSF-funded researchers who will receive additional support, in the form of mentoring and funding, to accelerate innovation that can attract subsequent third-party funding. Through their participation in I-Corps, Adam and his team decided to pursue SBIR funding. Arable’s I-Corps mentor referred them to NJSBDC’s Technology Commercialization Consultant, Randy Harmon.
Randy reviewed, critiqued and made suggestions for strengthening Adam’s draft NSF SBIR Phase I proposal, which was submitted in June 2015. Adam received word in December 2015 that the $150,000 project had been approved for funding. He then applied for and received $20,000 through NSF’s Phase IB program, which is intended to provide supplemental funding between the completion of Phase I and Phase II.
Upon successfully completing the Phase I project, Arable submitted a Phase II SBIR proposal at the end of August 2016 NJSBDC Consultant, Randy Harmon, assisted the team in the preparation of the Phase II technology commercialization plan.
Arable was able to successfully leverage their Phase I and IB awards to raise $2.6 million in venture capital which closed in February 2017. Upon successful completion of a pre-award audit and administrative review, Arable received notice of a $750,000 NSF Phase II award in April. According to Dr. Wolf, the assistance provided by NJSBDC through Randy Harmon helped Arable win SBIR Phase I and Phase II grants and the validation provided by the Phase I award helped raise their equity financing.
An opportunity exists to apply for additional NSF funding after Phase II ends. The Arable Insights platform, supported by the Arable Mark, is already generating revenue. Customers include Driscoll’s, Treasury Wine Estates, and Valley Irrigation. The Arable vision is to help enhance a customer’s sound decisions-making, mitigating risk in food production systems.
Consolidated Packaging Group, LLC
Gary R. Kaufman
30 Bergen Turnpike
Ridgefield Park, NJ 07660
Founded in 2004, Consolidated Packaging Group, LLC manufactures flexible packaging solutions at its SQF Level 2 certified 117,000 square foot facility in Ridgefield Park. Led by Executive Vice-President Gary Kaufman, CPG offers rollstock products, stand up pouches, quad seal pouches, laser scoring, pre-zippered films, bag tops, zip lock poly bags, and more. The company also provides laminated rollstock of film structures; and high barrier films, puncture resistant films, self-venting microwavable films, and films for frozen food applications. In addition, it offers pre-press, HD color printing, lamination, and slitting services. The company serves customers in industries or markets relating to food, frozen foods and vegetables, processed and fresh meats, consumer products, personal care, tissue overwrap, sanitary products, lawn and garden, household chemicals, mulch and soils, pet foods and treats, cat litter, and medical packaging.
CPG and its 125 employees are committed to creating packaging that minimizes environmental impact. During the manufacturing process, Gary strives for maximum conservation of raw materials and minimization of related waste, production processes, and energy consumption. Wishing to expand his business as well as his distinction as a leader in sustainable practices, Gary has met with NJSBDC at Ramapo College Regional Director Vince Vicari to discuss plans to increase CPG’s marketing and branding.
To minimize waste, CPG performs packaging audits to reduce the amount of materials used without compro-
mising on the package’s durability, performance, and appearance. CPG also resells or reprocesses a majority of the polyethylene trim materials that are a by-product of the manufacturing process. In addition, they recycle many commonly used materials, such as cores, pallets, scrap metal, and all corrugated paper products. Gary estimates the annual number of pounds saved at over 280,000 – in addition to reductions in the cost of packaging, transportation, and energy consumed in the manufacturing process.
Dollar savings can also be found in CPG’s lamination division, where it has replaced all solvent-based adhesives with more environmentally-friendly technologies. Similar efficiencies also extend to re-cycling and reclaiming solvents in their Flexographic printing process, resulting in a savings of $225,000 per year.
To reduce energy usage even further, CPG replaced high intensity discharge lights with more efficient fluorescent and LED lighting; installed controls that turn lights on only when rooms are occupied; adjusted specific compressed air settings to lower the consumption of electric-drive power; installed variable speed drives on oxidizers to reduce the volume of natural gas required for incineration; and, installed a recovery system to capture waste heat.
Eric Kainer & Rasul Damji
865 Ridge Road
Princeton, NJ 08852
For the past year, NJSBDC Procurement Consultant, Andy Bennett, has been working with KDW Partners located in Princeton, New Jersey. The firm, owned by technology-savvy finance and marketing professional, Eric Kainer, and growth and transformation executive Rasul Damji, features Ambedded Technology advanced storage systems and Modulan cabinets and containment systems for large data centers and smaller computer rooms.
Upon Andy’s recommendations, KDW added the technology leading, American-made LED lights from Pennsylvania-based Independence LED Lighting. Independence LED Lighting offers the highest quality, longest-lasting, highest efficiency lights in the world. As a result of adding Independence LED Lighting to their product line, KDW has seen exploding demand, both within its data center target market, and beyond. Demand for LED lighting has emerged from the Federal government, local government, commercial businesses, and even retail environments.
In April, SBDC Procurement Specialist Andy Bennett also introduced the firm to a New Jersey-based steel-manufacturing partner that is currently producing prototypes for KDW. In the same month he introduced another NJSBDC client, The Maximum Group LLC, which is working with KDW in business promotion and marketing.
To date, Andy has assisted the firm with over $1 million in negotiation support with Tier-1 construction companies in both Pennsylvania and Colorado. These negotiations were for KDW’s modular data center cabinets and containment. Andy also worked with the firm on a proposal for LED lighting systems for municipalities in Northern New Jersey with applications spanning libraries, schools, municipal buildings, and public housing.
In August 2017, Andy assisted KDW with negotiating and landing a $900,000 commercial contract with a Colorado-based construction company for LED lighting and CPU metal cabinets. And in November, one of the northern New Jersey municipalities (noted above) awarded KDW a contract for LED lighting that resulted from RFP research and review that Andy provided to the company’s business owner, Eric Kainer.
NJSBDC’s Procurement Specialty Program, through Andy Bennett, also introduced the firm to two contacts at Rutgers University’s purchasing department, and continues to work with KDW in business development, marketing, and contract negotiations support.
NJSBDC’s support of KDW and their perseverance has resulted in great outcomes!
The Malachia Brantley Entrepreneurial Spirit Award
Nathaniel Sims, Small Business Management Consultant & Advisor
America’s SBDC New Jersey recognizes Nathaniel Sims for his solid, strong track record in supporting small business ownership and entrepreneurship in New Jersey.
The New Jersey Small Business Development Centers (NJSBDC) network lost one of its greatest contributors in assisting small business owners and entrepreneurs with the passing of Senior Business Advisor and Management Consultant Nathaniel (“Nat”) Sims this past May 2017.
Today, on behalf of America’s SBDC New Jersey, we provide this Excellence Award posthumously in remembrance of his strong dedication to assisting small business owners, veterans, and entrepreneurs in pursuit of their small business dreams.
He contributed greatly to our small business assistance program and provided guidance to countless numbers of entrepreneurs and small business owners in his various capacities over the years as Assistant Director and Director of the NJSBDC at Kean University and subsequently as Senior Consultant, specializing in veterans’ assistance, for NJSBDC Headquarters and the entire network. He helped hundreds of veterans either to start a business or expand their existing business.
Nat was a compassionate and caring person and a man of integrity. His business acumen and skills imparted great knowledge for clients of the NJSBDC program. He helped many small business clients along the road to success. He will be forever missed as one of our most giving Team members.
Through a lifetime of selfless service and dedication to the New Jersey small business community, his positive attitude and passion to help others made a difference and contributed greatly to the successful outcomes of many small businesses in our state.
Mr. Sims was posthumously awarded the Veteran Owned Small Business, Mentor of the Year Award for his tireless efforts and dedication for Veteran small business owners by The American Legion on June 8th, 2017.
He sets an example for all of us to further bolster the mission of entrepreneurship and small business ownership.
NJBIZ offers opportunities for nominations concerning an array of achievement awards ranging from Chief Financial Officer, Legal Counsel, to entrepreneurs and/or business owners of the year. This year NJBIZ rolled out another awards series called the ICON Awards for Business Leaders in their sixties. CEO/State Director of America’s SBDC New Jersey, Brenda B. Hopper, was one of several individuals who received such recognition on August 23, 2017.
NJBIZ classifies the inaugural NJBIZ ICON Honors Awardees as “business leaders who are in a class of their own: the pioneers and change-makers. Those who have made a daily impact on their local communities and unparalleled contributions to the economic excellence of our region.”
“I was pleased to receive this award,” said Brenda B. Hopper. “It’s always nice to be recognized with other business professionals who make their contributions to the business world. Small business is my passion.”
Ms. Hopper believes her biggest contribution to New Jersey’s business community is “The success of our small business clients; whether it’s increased revenues and profits, creating and retaining jobs, winning a new federal, state or municipal procurement contract, getting a new international trade deal, or receiving that much needed financing for expansion. Their success is our success.”
Hopper was also a recent recipient of the Support Award from the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and the African-American Outstanding Achievement Award from Kappa Community Development Corporation (KCDC).
Joined by Expert Panelists and News12 New Jersey Executive Producer
America’s SBDC New Jersey was joined by event primary sponsors of “Women Warriors in Business,” including M&T Bank and Prudential Financial. Partners who also engaged included the U.S. Small Business Administration, The American Legion, PSE&G and The State of New Jersey’s Business Action Center, a key state funding partner of the NJSBDC network.
Ivy Charmatz, an Emmy Award-winning executive producer for news and special projects at News12 New Jersey, was the featured speaker for America’s SBDC New Jersey Women Warriors in Business program. This high-impact women entrepreneur and leadership symposium and luncheon held on May 11, 2017 at 8:00 am until 2:00 pm, took place at Rutgers Business School in Newark, NJ.
Chamatz is a graduate of Rutgers University and stated that the event offered “an opportunity for women to come together and realize that although our paths may be different, our journeys are similar.” She stated that she enjoyed “spending the morning with so many accomplished professionals to share some of their insight and inspiration.”
The “Women Warriors in Business” program helped women explore leadership challenges and opportunities in business and careers, identify competitive advantages, help with personal and organizational branding, access lenders for financing, and utilize procurement certifications that are necessary when it comes to competing for public/private contracts.
Joining Charmatz at the gathering were Stephanie D. Burroughs, senior procurement consultant for NJSBDC’s Specialty Procurement Program, Tendai Ndoro, Ph.D., regional director of the NJSBDC at Rutgers-Newark, Kate Muldoon, regional director of the NJSBDC at William Paterson University, Pasqualina DeBoer, assistant regional director of the NJSBDC at Brookdale Community College, Stacy Smollin Schwartz, marketing professor, Rutgers Business School, Dominick Belfiore, small business and entrepreneur specialist at the U.S. Small Business Administration, Don Newman, director of small business advocacy at The State of New Jersey’s Business Action Center and representatives from the private sector including Michele Litzky, president of Litzky Public Relations, Cheryl McCants, president and chief executive officer of Impact Consulting Enterprises, Beverly Winkler, director of organizational engagement, learning and development at PSE&G, Dawn Fitch-Mitchell, director of diversity at DDB Worldwide, Maureen Fairfax, vice president of strategic sourcing at Prudential Financial, Lindsey C. Holmes, chief executive officer and lead strategist of Usable Tech and Andaiye Taylor, founder and editor of BrickCityLive.com.
The event attracted more than 75 women from different business careers and paths and highlighted women in the military, veterans and military dependents. Shy Hopkins, NJSBDC’s network Headquarters marketing program coordinator helped organize and plan the event, with Eugene Spillane of the U.S. SBA and Bob Looby of The American Legion. NJTV provided coverage.
The New Jersey SBA District Office, under the leadership of District Director Al Titone, Deputy Director John Blackstock, and Project Officer and Public Affairs Specialist Harry Menta invited America’s SBDC New Jersey network Headquarters to arrange for four of its SBDC network clients to participate at a Roundtable Session with the newly appointed SBA Administrator, Linda McMahon. The gathering took place on the morning of June 2nd at Gateway Center in Newark, NJ at the offices of the SBA District Office.
“These sessions of engagement are so necessary,” said Brenda B. Hopper, NJSBDC chief executive officer and state director. “We’re encouraged that SBA’s outreach to the small business sector enhances the understanding of key issues they confront. It’s all very helpful in program services and delivery.”
“We’re glad that some of our small business clients were able to join Administrator Linda McMahon and the SBA staff members,” said Deborah Smarth, NJSBDC network chief operating officer and associate state director. “Our clients enjoyed the experience and offered their perspectives about the challenges and needs of small business owners and how SBDC assistance helped them enhance their business operations.”
One of NJSBDC’s clients participating at the SBA Roundtable was glad to have conversed about small business challenges. “The discussion was engaging and provocative ranging from the rising cost and inflexibility of Workers Compensation Insurance to unfair business practices threatening small business. No subject was off the table and all conversation was candid,” stated Paul Steck, president and chief executive officer of Exothermic Molding, Inc. “Every effort was made by the SBA to make this meeting productive and worthwhile, directly in keeping with Linda McMahon’s vision as an advocate for small business.”
NJSBDC clients who participated at the SBA Roundtable included:
BKW Transformation Group, headed by Beverly White, is headquartered in Piscataway and provides end-to-end business process management solutions by integrating strategic planning, process assessment, technology implementation and organizational change. The company has been an SBDC client since 2013. The NJSBDC at Rutgers-New Brunswick assisted the business owner with business planning, global expansion, procurement opportunities and financing. The BKW vision resulted from the owner’s vast experience at both the operational and executive level while employed at multiple major corporations and Big 5 Consulting companies, as well as managing non-profit agencies. BKW has been instrumental in developing business architectural processes and transforming them into operational support system solutions to meet business needs. The company focuses on creating holistic business solutions through its work methodologies that harness the client organizational expertise. Beverly White noted, “We work to formulate solutions that optimize operational efficiencies and the expertise of the company has grown through its valued resource team of technology specialists, business analysts, and experts in program and project management.”
Exothermic Molding, Inc., whose President and CEO is Paul Steck, specializes in the development and manufacture of high quality molded plastic parts often used as electronic enclosures in the medical devices, laboratory instruments and technology markets. As a client of NJSBDC at Kean University, the firm received assistance with trade/export issues, sustainability practices, and issues relating to the hiring of personnel. The company, considered one of the leading RIM manufacturers in the United States, has successfully served these industries for over forty years. Exothermic Molding works with independent industrial designers, and the engineering departments of global OEM’s such as Becton Dickinson, Siemens Medical, Brooks Automation, Honeywell Analytical and Beckman Coulter. The company’s client portfolio also includes noteworthy, smaller technology manufacturers such as SolidScape (3-D printing), Canfield Scientific (medical imaging), and Qfix (patient positioning). Exothermic also serves the Department of Defense and laser driven, automatic guided vehicle markets (AGV). Beginning with design consultation, Exothermic Molding provides complete product manufacturing services that include producing machined aluminum injection molds used to manufacture the molded products. Parts are molded in-house and secondary processing often includes automotive grade paint finishes, silk-screening, and value-added assembly services.
Acrilex, Inc., led by Steve Sullivan, chief executive officer, is a leading distributor of plastics, fabricated components and custom manufactured products in the NYC Tri-State area with branch offices in various national locations. The firm was a previous NJSBDC Success Award Winner. David Grunberg, vice president, represented the company at the SBA roundtable. After 42 years in business in Jersey City, NJ, Acrilex Inc. has grown into a multi-faceted industry player. The firm transitioned from private ownership to an employee stock-owned (ESOP) company. Acrilex received assistance from the NJSBDC at New Jersey City University to gain knowledge and guidance in the areas of marketing, business planning, financial forecasting, government certifications, export analysis, procurement and new market expansion. As a result, Acrilex was able to create an in-house marketing division to increase sales and promote new product lines to target groups. Company-wide sales and profits are up. Acrilex CEO Steve Sullivan believes that “community services like the NJSBDC to assist businesses to grow and be profitable are vital. The mission of Small Business Development Centers is more crucial today than it has ever been: to try and help businesses grow out of this slow economy.”
Lobster Life Systems, Inc. (LLS) is a state-of-the-art design, production, and maintenance provider of marine salt, filters, activated carbon, lobster tanks, fish tanks, shellfish tanks and other marine life systems. The company, located in Lodi, NJ, was a recent past NJSBDC Success Award Winner. LLS provides many major supermarket chains, restaurants, supermarkets, gourmet shops, wholesalers and marine exhibitors throughout North America with equipment and supplies necessary to operating a healthy aquatic system. Founded in 1989, LLS is currently owned by Kristine LaGuardia and Thomas Olsen. Tom and Kristine were employees of LLS and purchased the company from their retiring owner who was a client of the NJSBDC serving Bergen County. Tom and Kristine received guidance from the NJSBDC in key areas: sales and expense budgeting; profit and loss statements (analysis and review); marketing brand building; and development of sales in key profitable areas of the business. LLS gained an increased nationwide share in this industry and experienced sales revenue increases, allowing it to hire additional personnel. Tom Olsen notes, “LLS, Inc. has been actively working with the Bergen Small Business Development Center for several years and has greatly benefited from the relationship with our advisors Vince Vicari and Jim Palumbo. We are happy to have utilized the services of NJSBDC and will continue to look to the SBDC team to help us soar to new heights!”
America’s SBDC Will Advocate in Congress to Promote Stable or Increased Funding
The proposed FY 2018 federal budget of the Trump administration proposes $110 million for the national SBDC program administered through the U.S. Small Business Administration. The House Financial Services appropriations subcommittee has proposed $120 million.
Representative Velazquez from New York has offered an amendment to increase that amount to $130 million. Under the congressional continuing resolution for fiscal year 2017, $117 million had been allocated to America’s SBDC, but, the 2017 Omnibus Act increased the funding level to $125 million.
The national organization – America’s SBDC – headquartered in Burke, Virginia will strongly advocate on Capitol Hill for a better budget allocation. The national program has major supporters in Congress who assist with funding support each year.
This is early in the budget process and it is expected that with the highly respected track record of the national SBDC network in creating and saving jobs and generating new businesses as well as growing established small businesses, the congressional budget process will yield better outcomes in terms of budgetary expectations.
“America’s SBDC will be working with our friends and supporters in Congress to ensure SBDC funding remains at current levels or better,” said Tee Rowe, president and chief executive officer of the national network, America’s SBDC. “In light of the natural disasters and strong supporting roles that SBDCs play, that request is only logical and we anticipate strong support.”
Each year in February or March, the national SBDC network holds the Association Winter/Spring Meeting and proceeds to have all state SBDC networks advocate with the congressional delegations from the respective states following its General Meeting.
“We have a good relationship with our congressional delegation in New Jersey,” said Deborah Smarth, chief operating officer and associate state director. “They know about our impact numbers just like our state legislators in Trenton. They understand how important this program is and they work hard to provide resources to ensure small business and entrepreneurial support.”
“We look forward to working with our counterparts in the national network as well as our national office at ensuring good funding results,” added Brenda B. Hopper, chief executive officer and state director.
SBDC Regional Director at Ramapo College of New Jersey Receives “State Star” Award
America’s SBDC “State Star” award was presented to Regional Center Director Vincent Vicari of NJSBDC at Ramapo College of New Jersey during America’s SBDC national conference in Nashville, Tennessee (September 4-8).
Each of the 50-state SBDC networks nominates their staff members who exhibit excellence in assisting entrepreneurs and small businesses, promoting greater opportunities for growth, thereby, contributing greatly to the state and national Small Business Development Center program. Vicari was recognized from New Jersey’s SBDC.
“We recognize Vincent Vicari for his strong efforts and leadership in assisting small business owners and entrepreneurs who seek help with their business operations,” said Brenda B. Hopper, NJSBDC network chief executive officer and state director. “The Center provides quality support for its business clients and also delivers specialized assistance for veterans.”
“We are grateful for Vince’s leadership at the Center,” said Anisfield School of Business Dean Ed Petkus of Ramapo College, located in Mahwah, NJ. “We are extremely proud to have our Center’s Director recognized at the national conference of America’s SBDC. His strong passion to help business owners leads to great results. He has made our Ramapo Center and its services very visible throughout Bergen County.” The Anisfield School of Business is AACSB accredited.
“Vincent Vicari’s contributions to the statewide Small Business Development Centers program are appreciated,” said Deborah Smarth, NJSBDC network chief operating officer and associate state director. “His diligence with small business owners and his strong advocacy with various public and private stakeholders in the Center’s service region add value to our program.”
“I am honored to receive this recognition,” said Vincent Vicari. “Providing advice and guidance to small businesses to help them develop and grow is rewarding. The staff of regional centers statewide and the support by NJSBDC Headquarters enhances the program’s impact. The success of our clients statewide illuminates NJSBDC’s success, also.”
Vince Vicari is a Bergen County native who joined the NJSBDC network in 2008 as Assistant Director. He was appointed as the center’s regional director a few years later. Vicari’s successful and wide-ranging career includes positions in retail management, sales, food service, higher education and consulting. His credentials include an M.B.A. from National University in San Diego, a B.A. from William Paterson University, and an A.A.S. from Bergen Community College. Mr. Vicari continues to pursue education in specialized areas like land surveying, tax, technology and international trade. He has many years of teaching experience as an adjunct faculty member at four-year higher education colleges/universities in the area of business management and has co-authored and published academic papers in this field.
Survival strategies that small businesses need to manage an economic slump differ from those that large companies can put in place because small businesses have limited resources in terms of human capital, money, and time. Large companies usually focus on macro-level strategic actions such as economic indicator trends and downturns. Small business strategic choices should focus on micro-level indicators that take into account small low-cost incremental strategic actions guaranteed to yield high results, impact and return on investments.
There are five strategy categories or perspectives from which a business can choose to develop their strategic actions: Management oriented strategies; Resources oriented strategies; Knowledge oriented strategies; Business Operational/Internal Systems oriented strategies; or External Environmental oriented strategies. Small businesses need to be aware of their strategic choice orientation in order to be clear about the intentions and significance of your strategic action objective, impact and outcomes or results. Focus on implementing integrated, low touch solutions. Below are some of the micro strategies to take into consideration:
1 Revenue/Cash Inflow Strategies i.e. focus on cash flow statement as an indicator for what’s currently happening to the company’s cash inflow. This allows the business to primarily focus on strategies that are cash inflow oriented because this is what’s likely to keep them in business during the course of the economic slump.
2 Revenue Diversification Strategies i.e. focused on revenue generation strategies, not revenue reallocation strategies. Revenue retrenchment works to a point, but it’s not the only way for small businesses to save their companies in an economic slump. Cutting cost is a “maintenance” strategy – a measure for recycling the same money already in the business so that you can direct it to priority areas or appropriate budgets so that you can stay in business.
3 Market/Service/Product Mix Objectives: Reassess the business objectives (maybe goals) – that would help the business adjust to the prevailing economic conditions. An example would be focusing on Market/services or product MIX strategies. There are many alternatives a business can pursue in this strategy such as:
a) Old services/products to new market;
b) New services/products to old market;
c) New services/products to new market base.
4 Strategic Alignment: Because of their small size, small businesses/companies are quick to shift and have the ability to respond to external changes like an economic slump. This is an advantage. Therefore it is very important to align the business structures, processes, performance measures and/or incentives with internal changes as well as external economic forces.
5 Structures: Internal & External Business structures: Focus on the internal and external operating structures and how they impede or enhance efficiency and effectiveness; how can the business structure be modified to align with ongoing changes without necessarily “compromising” the core business model.
6 Processes: Focus on costly processes in place that increase your cost of doing business; modify and streamline to reduce expenses. For example, what aspects of the doing business processes can be outsourced rather than be maintained in-house? Eliminate “bureaucratic” or “red tape” business processes i.e., technology mediocrity to non-value adding operational routines.
7 Performance Measurement: Measuring performance is huge in eliminating redundant processes. Focus on time management, employee rate of productivity and efficiency, and the impact of business processes and procedures. Performance analytic information should always inform decision making.
8 Human Capital Incentives: Negotiate with your employees for incentives like flex-time if you cannot afford financial compensation; focus on greater role clarification; review employee resumes to identify former training, skills and experiences you can leverage and cross training of employees. Negotiate with suppliers and clients. Communication is key in human capital management.
Dr. Tendai Ndoro is the Director of the NJSBDC at Rutgers University-Newark campus.
The U.S. EPA’s grant to the NJSBDC network has allowed the network to establish and continue the Green Sustainability Specialty Program into 2017. The specialty program provides information and technical assistance for small business owners concerning how they can realize savings and bring down business costs by instituting sustainable, “green” practices into their business operations (i.e. energy conservation, waste reduction, pollution prevention, streamlined procurement and risk management). When they implement a certain threshold of sustainable practices (at least five), they become part of the NJ Sustainability Business Registry which can be accessed through NJSBDC’s website. These small businesses are enabled to market their businesses with the “Sustainable Business” seal. The NJSBDC team through this federal grant, and with the collaboration of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, provides one-on-one counseling and prepares specialized audits (on request) making recommendations customized to the particular small business inquiring about sustainable practices. The NJSBDC Team will also provide informative seminars at events sponsored by business groups or initiated and sponsored by the Sustainability NJSBDC Team for NJSBDC’s current clients across the state. For more information about sustainability learning opportunities, send a message to email@example.com.
Over the past few years, Bank of America has partnered with America’s SBDC New Jersey, providing a high level of financial resources so that the NJSBDC network can continue to work with entrepreneurs and small business owners in targeted high unemployment areas across the state.
The BOA-NJSBDC collaboration focuses on providing various forms of technical assistance concerning building and repairing credit to appropriately overcome financial constraints and barriers for small, minority and women business owners. In addition, other assistance for marketing, business planning, and accounting skills has also been provided so that business owners are well equipped to meet the challenges of running a business.
Several centers of the network have been providing counseling and training under this partnership for such individuals wanting to start businesses as well as those existing businesses that want to further develop.
“We are grateful to the Bank of America for their financial support,” said Brenda B. Hopper. “ This kind of support allows us to provide small business resources in areas that confront greater economic barriers. We’ve been able to reach hundreds and hundreds of clients and our services have made a difference as a result of BOA’s generous support.”
America’s SBDC New Jersey Technology Commercialization Program sponsored a September 30th SBIR/STTR training seminar (8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.) followed by one-to-one appointments at the NJ Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) North Brunswick facility. PSE&G provided support for this event and follow-on with SBDC science-technology clients and trainees. In addition, a key sponsor of these annual sessions is Eisner Amper, accountant advisors. Other sponsoring organizations included BioNJ and the Rutgers Office of New Ventures and Entrepreneurship as well as supporting organizations including Innovation NJ, the NJ Technology Council, and NJIT Enterprise Development Center.
Randy Harmon, the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers network Technology Commercialization Program Consultant, invited The National Cancer Institute, The Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Smart Health and Biomedical Technologies Program to participate at this seminar.
The services of NJSBDC’s program focuses on providing guidance and assistance in pursuing Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Transfer of Technology (STTR) grants; the program’s consultant coaches and provides assistance in the proposal preparation process and also specialized reviews and critiques of draft proposals with specific suggestions as to how to strengthen in order to be competitive in winning such grant awards. These latter services aim at Phase I and Phase II commercialization plans, which can be particularly challenging for many applicants. Assistance can be provided by sending an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org; call NJSBDC’s Headquarters Office located at Rutgers Business School, (973) 353-1927.
Legislature Introduces and Passes Budget with Increase for America’s SBDC New Jersey
On June 30 the Governor signed into law (P.L. 2016, Chapter 10) a state budget for fiscal year 2016-2017 which includes a restored increase for the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers program.
The Governor in his winter proposed budget would have allocated $250,000 for the NJSBDC, but, the Legislature increased that allocation to $500,000, which was the level of funding in the prior year’s budget for this program. The funds are leveraged with Small Business Administration (SBA) funding appropriated by Congress for America’s SBDC national network program. The funds are returned to the states’ SBDC networks on the basis of population and the ability to match federal funding with other financial resources, including state, non-federal grants, and private sector contributions.
“We are grateful to the Legislature for their continued support of this small business resource program,” said Brenda B. Hopper, NJSBDC network’s chief executive officer and state director. “They understand that the assistance we provide to entrepreneurs and small business owners translates into business retention, expansion and jobs.”
“The Legislature has been fully supportive of this jobs producing program year after year,” said Deborah Smarth, NJSBDC network’s chief operating officer and associate state director. “We’ve gone through some challenges over the past 12 years, but, we believe our crusade for proper investment in small business assistance resources is the right approach.”
Smarth, the organization’s chief advocate at the State House, indicates that New Jersey’s investment pales compared to other states’ investment in their statewide SBDCs. “According to a recent, past national network association survey, the average state investment stands at $1.1 million. In reviewing the history of the program’s state funding, Smarth points out that the Legislature has led the way from the beginning, having worked with the program to increase funding from $500,000 to $1 million several years ago. But, during the Corzine administration, there was a reduction from $1 million to $500,000, than a freeze to $250,000. When Governor Christie took office, his first budget proposed no funding, but, the Legislature restored state funding to $250,000 where it remained stable during the first term and into the second term of the Christie administration until the Legislature increased funding in fiscal year 2015-2016 to $500,000. This year’s fiscal budget (2016-2017) was enacted with the $500,000 allocation, the same as last year.
The Governor subsequently issued an executive order (following his signing of this year’s budget on June 30); the executive order led to certain legislative budget add-ons being put in reserve until the Legislature agrees to healthcare reform savings; more than $100 million in municipal transitional aid and various other programs, including certain non-profits, were also placed on this reserve list. The SBDC program was added to the reserve list despite the fact that the total $500,000 allocation for SBDC does not increase the state budget since it is drawn from the
line appropriation for the State Department division charged with business development, attraction, and economic growth. Half of the SBDC program allocation was being held in reserve, but, on October 12th those funds were released.
“That was good news,” said Smarth. “In this economy which has not recovered, small business resources are significantly important. Investment in small business technical assistance actually produces impact in terms of job retention and job creation, notwithstanding business retention, business creation and expansion.”
The entire network and the thousands of small business owners served under the program are grateful for the leadership of Assembly and Senate Budget Committee chairmen in the respective legislative chambers, Senator Paul A. Sarlo and Assemblyman Gary Schaer as well as the ranking minority budget officers, Senator Anthony R. Bucco and Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon. Other supporters included: Assemblymen Robert Clifton, Ronald Dancer, David Rible, Assemblymen David Russo, David Wolfe and Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi; Assemblymen Craig Coughlin, Tim Eustace, Jerry Green, Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald, Assemblywomen Valerie Vanieri Huttle and Pamela Lampitt, Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter and Assemblyman John Wisniewski. Members of the Assembly Budget Committee included: Assemblymen Anthony Bucco, John Burzichelli, Gordon Johnson, John DiMaio, John McKeon, Troy Singleton, Benjie Wimberly, Assemblywomen Elizabeth Maher Muoio and Eliana Pintor Marin. Senate Budget Committee members supporting the effort included: Senators Sandra Cunningham, Linda Greenstein, Kevin O’Toole, Steve Oroho, Nellie Pou, Brian Stack, and Sam Thompson; in addition, Senators Diane Allen, Christopher (“Kip”) Bateman, Michael Doherty, Robert Gordon, Ronald Rice, and Shirley Turner; Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. and Senate President Stephen Sweeney have supported the program over the years. Several additional legislators also joined this year’s efforts.
A recent, past Government Accountability Office (GAO) study of 52 economic development/entrepreneurial programs gave high marks to the national SBDC program. The GAO commended the national SBDC program, specifically noting SBDC’s best practices including impact metrics, accreditation practices, annual programmatic/financial audits, comprehensive local/regional/state/federal collaborations and program effectiveness.
Over the years, hundreds of millions of dollars have been paid by New Jersey to mid-size and larger companies to attract new jobs or retain existing jobs in the state through state business incentive grants and/or tax incentive programs. But oftentimes small businesses, the backbone of the economy, have been left behind. The costs of state grant and tax incentives to mid-and-large size companies are very high. A newspaper account estimates that jobs under the state business grant incentive programs since 1996 cost on average $22,044 per job.
By investing in assistance for entrepreneurs and existing small businesses through NJSBDC, the costs of creating and saving jobs in New Jersey are much lower. Maintaining and enhancing our small business sector in communities across the state provides sustainability and economic growth, generating jobs for the state’s residents. That’s why the Legislature and Executive Branch should continue to increase state funding for assistance to small businesses and entrepreneurs through America’s SBDC New Jersey. Independent studies prepared on an annual basis document the lower costs associated with creating and saving jobs for clients of the NJSBDC program.
Asbury Park Press, May 6, 2013.
America’s SBDC New Jersey, also known as the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers (NJSBDC) program, has been assisting small businesses and entrepreneurs for 37 years. It was one of the first pilot projects in the nation.
NJSBDC is part of a national network of SBDCs and goes through formal national accreditation every four to five years. There are up to 1,000 offices throughout the United States promoting business development and growth and generating thousands and thousands of jobs for Americans.
NJSBDC’s 12-center network provides comprehensive assistance for small businesses in all 21 counties. The SBDC network helps entrepreneurs to start new businesses and assists existing and established businesses (at different stages) to further develop and grow, sustaining economic growth in communities across the state. The strong historical record of NJSBDC’s economic impact for New Jersey cannot be underestimated; its business experts touch the lives of countless numbers of small business owners and operators who tap the network for guidance on an array of operational issues, including but not limited to: Business planning, strategic planning, accounting, financial analysis, legal organization, taxes, recordkeeping, marketing, E-Business, International Trade (exporting), Sustainability, Procurement opportunities, Technology-Commercialization, etc. The program brings back to the state federal dollars for small business support, but, federal funding must be matched dollar for dollar. That’s why the State’s investment in SBDC matters! NJ lags behind the investment levels of other states in their statewide SBDC networks.
COLUMN: LET EMPLOYEES BAND TOGETHER TO ESTABLISH NEW BUSINESSES, CREATING AND SAVING JOBS; INVEST MORE IN TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
The big topic these days in national news with a new presidential administration is bringing back jobs to America. Despite the administration’s diverse proposals, it’s even more simplistic!
Employees, who are being displaced due to their employer’s decisions to relocate, can do more than just wait for governmental solutions. They can take their knowledge and know-how in the industry in which they have worked for years, join together, and establish their own business in the field. They can do so with the help of the national America’s Small Business Development Centers program (America’s SBDC).
Each state has a network of SBDCs totally focused on helping established small businesses reach their next level of growth as well as assisting those individuals who want to start a business. Having workers band together to establish their own cooperative business will ensure that the jobs that would have been lost due to their employer’s closing its doors, will be saved due to their own efforts with the help of professional consultants and business advisors at SBDC. America’s SBDC New Jersey has a few great success stories based on such a model. This is the way for job creation, new businesses, and business retention in New Jersey. Why not promote that model?
According to information cited on the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s website, the way a firm organizes can very well affect innovation and creativity among its workers. According to the 2015 Kauffman blog, “Employee-owned firms are theorized to have more productive workers and less turnover than firms with traditional ownership structures.” The foundation of an employee-owned firm focuses on allowing employees to drive and navigate the firm’s mission and vision; employees hold the stocks of the enterprise and elect some of the company’s board members. The employees’ compensation is appropriately shared and works as an incentive for greater productivity and innovation at the firm. Small business and entrepreneurship is front and center! And, employee-owned small businesses are a means to save and catalyze new jobs and strengthen the middle class.
According to the most recent 2017 Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council’s “Small Business Policy Index,” New Jersey ranked 49th among the states in small business-friendly public policies. It’s time to change that ranking through innovative thinking and greater state investment in NJSBDC, part of a national network of SBDCs throughout the country. There’s no reason why New Jersey’s SBDC investment should lag the average state investment nationally. Why not invest properly in such a program with such a strong track record? The Legislature understands and has taken action. The executive branch should be just as supportive.