Funding Low for Small Business Development [AUDIO]
There are 12 New Jersey Small Business Development Centers helping companies and budding entrepreneurs start businesses and create jobs. State funding for the program has remained unchanged since Fiscal Year 2009.
NJSBDC chief operating office Deborah Smarth is hoping for more help in this year's budget.
"It's still a tough economy and there are still many challenges especially in the post-Sandy period where businesses suffered dramatically after Superstorm Sandy," Smarth said. "When Jon Corzine was governor we were at the $1 million benchmark, but unfortunately in the last administration we were cut by 75 percent."
Last year, the NJSBDC program helped 644 clients start a new business and assisted in small businesses being able to create 2,191 jobs and retain 14,288 positions.
The Corzine Administration proposed a budget eliminating NJSBDC funding, but the legislature restored it to $500,000 in the FY 2009 budget before it was frozen mid-year at $250,000 where it remains today. Gov. Chris Christie's budget plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1 includes $250,000 for the program.
"This (funding) should be a very high priority in terms of what we're doing and how we created jobs and saved jobs in 2013," Smarth said. "Nationally the average is $1.1 million and New Jersey already ranks 49th in the United States in terms of how friendly it is to small businesses and entrepreneurship."
According to Smarth, other states to which New Jersey is losing residents and businesses like Georgia and North Carolina invested $3 million and $2 million respectively for their states SBDC networks in the last fiscal year.