NEW JERSEY – Legislation sponsored by Senator Andrew Zwicker and Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz that would establish a mentorship program for new businesses and start-ups cleared the Senate Economic Growth Committee.
The legislation was one of three bills passed out of committees Thursday meant to support small businesses and others in the state who may be struggling in these still uncertain economic times.
Under the mentorship bill, S-3400, the NJ Business Action Center (BAC), in the Department of State, would establish a mentorship program to match those just starting off with those that are experienced in sustaining and growing a small business.
“New Jersey’s economy, like the global economy, is evolving daily, meaning that change can come rapidly for both new and established businesses. This program is designed to promote partnerships of commonality, a sharing of ideas and best practices that would help all our small businesses reach their greatest potential in an ever-changing economic landscape,” said Zwicker (D-Middlesex/Mercer/Somerset/Hunterdon).
The legislation would encourage mentor entities to share their experiences transitioning to a new form of commerce, such as transitioning from brick-and-mortar to online or transitioning to the sale of a product or service that the mentor entity did not previously have experience selling, and suggestions to avoid common pitfalls.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, especially here in New Jersey, where more than 861,000 businesses reside. By bolstering existing mentoring programs, through both new and proven strategies, our small business community will continue to grow and remain a vital part of the state’s economy,” said Ruiz (D-Essex).
A second bill, S-3204, also sponsored by Senator Zwicker and passed out of the Senate Economic Growth Committee, would require the NJ Business Action Center (BAC) to establish a publicly available small business manual.
Developed and maintained in collaboration with the NJ Economic Development Authority, New Jersey Business and Industry Association, the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, and regional chambers of commerce across the State, the manual would provide information and guidance on establishing, maintaining, and expanding a small business.
“Starting a small business and making a go of it, especially in that first year, can be daunting. Fortunately, there is plenty of useful information available to help these businesses navigate those challenges, and grow into profitable enterprises,” Zwicker said.
A third bill, S-3208, sponsored by Senator Vin Gopal and Senator Zwicker, would allow a “cure period,” for businesses to address and resolve certain violations.
The bill, which was advanced by the Senate Commerce Committee, would provide a State agency with the discretion to suspend enforcement of any administrative fine or civil penalty against a business for certain first-time violations that do not or would not result in a significant adverse impact to public safety or welfare.
“As recession-like uncertainty continues to haunt so many businesses in post-pandemic New Jersey, this legislation would give them breathing room to find remedy for violations not considered major but could represent a major hurdle for those trying to thrive in these still stressful times,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth).
The bills were released from committee by votes of 5-0, 5-0, and 5-0.