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NJBIA Chief Government Affairs Officer Christopher Emigholz  testified Thursday in support of eight bills before an Assembly committee that are designed to help small businesses, but he also asked lawmakers to focus on the bigger issue of New Jersey’s affordability challenges.

“While we do appreciate these bills and believe they will help, we know that some of the problems of running a small business go deeper than this package,” Emigholz said in his written testimony submitted to the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee, which unanimously passed the bills.

“Affordability still remains a major concern for New Jersey businesses even if this bill package were to become law, and NJBIA wants to emphasize that more work on business costs and taxes needs to be done, regardless of the great work done today with these bills,” Emigholz said.

Emigholz noted that higher costs and over-regulation in New Jersey, compared to other states, make running a business here a challenge. The pandemic, inflation, supply chain shortages and the difficulty finding workers have compounded these challenges.

“This package of bills provides businesses a helping hand to weather this storm, be better able to compete and hopefully grow and create jobs,” Emigholz said, noting NJBIA was pleased to support the legislation before the committee.

Highlights of the package include bills that would give state agencies discretion to waive fines for minor first-time rule violations that are corrected within 60 days, set state procurement goals for socially and economically disadvantaged businesses, level the playing for small businesses seeking access to government contracts, create a mentorship program for start-ups, and more.

The specific bills before the committee are:

  • A-2146 (Reynolds-Jackson, Wimberly, Sumter) – Creates a state business assistance program to establish contracting agency procurement goals for socially and economically disadvantaged businesses.
  • A-3424 (Sumter, Reynolds-Jackson, Moen) – Establishes a “Biannual Small Business Matchmaker Initiative” to improve small business access to government contracts.
  • A-4748 (Moriarty, Haider, Sampson) – Requires the New Jersey Business Action Center to collect and disseminate customer assistance metrics with the goal of enhancing customer service.
  • A-4749 (Coughlin, Swain, Timberlake) – Requires NJ Business Action Center to establish and maintain a publicly available small business manual containing information on permits and inspections, financial assistance programs, lease contracts and more.
  • A-4750 (Jaffer, Caputo, Atkins) – Creates a public database of vacant commercial space for small businesses.
  • A-4751 (Mosquera, Speight, DeAngelo) – Establishes mentorship program for new businesses and start-ups.
  • A-4752 (Tully, Benson, Chaparro) – Promotes small business internet presence.
  • A-4753 (Freiman, Park, Lampitt) – Allows state agencies to waive suspension or fines against businesses for minor first-time violations that do not impact public safety or violate criminal or labor laws if the violation is corrected within 60 days.