Trenton, NJ – Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno on Saturday joined with other state and business leaders to recognize and celebrate the increased commercial success of African American businesses in New Jersey.
Lt. Governor Guadagno was the keynote speaker at a town hall meeting at Rutgers University called “State of Black New Jersey, Improving Economic Development.” The event was co-sponsored by the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey and the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers.
The Lt. Governor pointed to recent census data that showed a 66 percent increase in the number of New Jersey businesses owned by African Americans in the past decade. Revenues for these businesses during that period jumped by 36 percent to a total of $4.3 billion, while New Jersey’s increase in African American owned businesses was better than the national average.
“Our record in year one speaks for itself, and it will only get better,” Guadagno said. She pointed to various initiatives of the Christie Administration aimed at specifically bolstering businesses in urban areas. They included the recently signed Banking Development District Act, which encourages banks to lend money in underserved areas, more than $12 million in job training grants, and the doubling of state assistance to small businesses from $25 million to $50 million.
“African American owned businesses are among the many entrepreneurial businesses that fuel the state’s economic engine,’’ said Richard E. Constable, the Deputy Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. “Between 2002 and 2007, just before the Great Recession, African American owned businesses grew steadily. We cannot afford to lose those gains, and the Department of Labor has been working aggressively to keep those businesses growing through our tax incentive and grant programs.’’
He added, “I am well aware of the commitment Governor Chris Christie and Lt. Governor Guadagno have made to improving economic development in this state and in our hardest hit communities. At the very start, this Administration set out to be more responsive to the needs of business and to begin working to attract emerging industries to New Jersey.’’
One way New Jersey is improving its business climate is by offering a stronger, more efficient economic development strategy.
“New Jersey finally has the proactive, coordinated and streamlined economic growth policy it deserves.’’ Lt. Governor Guadagno said. That is already paying dividends. The Lt. Governor pointed to a $55 million urban transit hub program that will bring a leading supermarket, Fresh Grocer, to New Brunswick, creating jobs and increasing ratables. Statewide, New Jersey gained 5,200 private sector jobs in 2010 after losing 117,700 such jobs in 2009.
Other elected officials speaking at the town hall meeting were state Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Essex), Assembly Republican Leader Alex DeCroce (R-Parsippany) and Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini (R-Monmouth).