Current and interested small business owners were given a chance to meet one-on-one with representatives from state government and get advice from Lt Governor Kim Guadagno.

The Lakewood Development Corporation, the administrative arm of the Urban Enterprise Zone, and the New Jersey Business Action Center hosted the event at the historic Strand Theater Wednesday night. Several dozen people braved the thunderstorms to attend the seminar.

Governor Guadagno gave the keynote presentation, and spoke about the importance of the government not getting in the way of businesses operating. She told those in attendance to take advantage of the opportunity to talk to “all of Trenton without having to pick up a phone.”

“These are the people that have the answers to the questions that you need answered so you have the confidence you need to grow, to hire one more person, or more importantly to get me, Trenton, out of your way so you can grow and hire one or two more people.”

Like many of the events the Lt. Governor does regarding small businesses, she gave out her cell phone number with instructions for businesses to call her if they find themselves hitting a roadblock with Trenton.

She noted she will always give callers an answer, though it won’t necessarily be the one they want to hear.

In addition to Guadagno there were representatives from the Board of Public Utilities, Business Action Center, Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Economic Development Authority, Small Business Development Center, State Library, Department of Treasury, Lakewood Urban Enterprise Zone, and the Lakewood Foreign Trade Zone #235.

The bad economy was topic of concern for business owners.

“Within this bad economic climate a lot of people are holding to a lot of different services, but to get out of this we have to find a different way of how we put our services together.” Says Charles Anthony of For a Just Cause.

For Jorge Rod, former Republican Assemblyman and publisher of Latinos Unidos De Nueva Jersey believes less influence from Trenton will be better for the business climate.

“I think you have to relax some of the regulations, try to give some tax breaks to small businesses and try to work with the business.”

However it wasn’t just established businesses who had questions, Marsha Griffin and her daughter want to launch Heart and Soul- a company to teach CPR courses throughout Ocean County. She says one of the hardest parts is knowing about the different options and programs available and avoiding the mistakes other established businesses made.

“Finances is a big thing” says Griffin “Trying to establish how much money is needed in your first business and are there any kind of grants that can assist in getting the business started.”