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Photo of the Small Business Small Business Bonding Readiness Assistance Program virtual graduation courtesy of NJEDA.

Forty small business owners recently graduated from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s Small Business Bonding Readiness Assistance Program, a series of classes covering a variety of business topics, including how to prepare and obtain bonds in order to compete for government contracts.

Twenty-three of the 40 small business owners who graduated on Nov. 12 have already received confirmation that they would be favorably considered for bonds ranging from $100,000 to $750,000, the NJEDA said. Final bond approvals will be conditional upon contract terms and bond forms, confirmation of satisfactory financing, and a favorable review of the underwriting information.

The virtual graduation celebrated the culmination of months of training for three classes of small-, minority- and women-owned businesses. The most recent graduates hailed from Atlantic City and Newark, and the previous classes were comprised of Camden and Jersey City business owners. To date, these classes have already qualified for a total of more than $9.4 million in surety bonding.

The Small Business Bonding Readiness Assistance Program is a comprehensive series of classes, workshops, and strategic counseling sessions for businesses in all sectors, including bonding and insurance, business development, financial presentation, construction and contract law, construction management, estimating, and credit. At the end, all participating businesses receive a Bonding Readiness Segment Report, which provides an in-depth assessment of their strengths and weaknesses to help them plan for the future.

Since the Small Business Bonding Readiness Assistance Program’s inception in 2018, a total of 67 small-, minority- and woman-owned businesses have participated, and more than 46 have qualified for $20.8 million in surety bonding, according to the NJEDA.

“Small businesses are the backbone of New Jersey’s communities, providing opportunities, creating jobs, driving economic growth, and making our state a great place to live and work,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “The fact that these small business owners chose to participate in this program in the midst of a pandemic, when they were juggling pandemic-related challenges in multiple areas of their lives, speaks volumes about their commitment to the success of their businesses and their local economies.”

John Harmon, president & CEO of African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, said the Small Business Bonding Readiness program is essential to helping businesses owned by people of color, who have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The NJEDA has been a phenomenal partner for us and for the small business community as a whole even before the pandemic and has become a centralized force in helping the Garden State’s economy re-emerge stronger than ever,” Harmon said.