The Small Business Voice: October 2019
The Bottom Line: Small Business Assistance and Entrepreneurship Should be Front and Center
By Deborah K. Smarth
There are always “winners” and “losers” in any State Budget. Policy decisions should be fair and
equitable based on metrics and impact; that’s good! Decisions should be made with the whole picture
that reflects reality, a comprehensive vantage point, not parts or pieces that may be flawed.
The Governor has continually talked about how small business is so important to the State and that
entrepreneurship, technology innovation, etc. are the key to New Jersey’s future. Yet, this enacted State
Budget didn’t entirely reach that worthy objective.
The Small Business Development Centers, America’s SBDC New Jersey, has been around for 41 years —
with more than half of them –as an official partner of the State. SBDC is not just another “partner.” As
part of a national network of SBDCs, the national program returns dollars to each state’s SBDC based on
population; it has strong support in Congress through annual appropriations and private sector support
as well as state government investment to match federal Small Business Administration funding in order
to drawdown a state’s SBDC fair share; it has wide infrastructure and intellectual capacity as it is
required to be hosted by higher education institutions, leveraging faculty/student collaborations with
small business clients and receiving in-kind/indirect support (e.g. offices, etc.). New Jersey’s 12 regional
SBDC offices serve small business owners and entrepreneurs in all 21 counties. Thousands of businesses
are assisted each year resulting in new and retained jobs, increased sales, returned business taxes and
sales tax revenues to New Jersey’s Treasury. In fact, according to national data, small businesses assisted
under this program had an average 14.8% rate of job growth as compared to the national average of
1.8% for businesses not receiving SBDC assistance.
Unfortunately, the gains made in NJSBDC’s funding level in the parting acts of Governor Christie and Lt.
Governor Guadagno (as head of the New Jersey State Department) – with the leadership and assistance
of Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature – which doubled funding to where it was many, many
years ago was sustained for only a short time under the new Murphy administration.
The state budget (enacted Appropriations Act) should have treated small business owners and
entrepreneurs a lot better. After all, when small businesses grow, so too do new and saved jobs,
company sales revenues, state business tax revenues, etc. The economy is supported all the way
While the SBDC’s funding is down for now, the NJSBDC network is hoping that the Governor and
Legislature will collaborate to find stable funding somewhere in that $38-plus billion state budget so it
can be appropriately utilized for such impactful resources. Change should be on the horizon and Small
Businesses AND Entrepreneurs shouldn’t be left behind anymore.
Deborah K. Smarth is Chief Operating Officer and Associate State Director of the New Jersey Small
Business Development Centers Network