Participants in the second class of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) and African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey’s (AACCNJ) Small Business Bonding Readiness Assistance Program have to date qualified for $5.6 million in surety bonding that will better position these firms to bid on public contracts. The program launched in 2019 to prepare small, minority- and women-owned businesses to obtain bonds, a crucial step in competing for state and federal government contracts.
“Supporting small businesses and creating new opportunities for women- and minority-owned businesses are always important, but these efforts are especially crucial now as we work to help businesses survive the challenges posed by COVID-19,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “The Small Business Bonding Readiness Assistance Program’s success providing guidance for growing businesses and removing barriers that have prevented many women- and minority-owned businesses from bidding for state and federal opportunities is an important step toward leveling the playing field and paving the way to a robust and speedy economic recovery.”
The Small Business Bonding Readiness Assistance Program provides a comprehensive series of classroom trainings, workshops, and strategic counseling sessions covering a variety of topics relevant to small businesses in all sectors, including bonding and insurance, business development, financial presentation, construction and contract law, construction management, estimating, and credit. At the end of the program, 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.
“Equal access to opportunity is a vital first step toward economic and social equality. Ensuring women- and minority-owned small businesses can qualify for bonding and compete for government contracts is critical to achieving our vision for a stronger, fairer New Jersey economy that works for all our diverse residents,” said Michelle Bodden, NJEDA Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer. “The Small Business Bonding Readiness Assistance Program plays an important role preparing minority- and women-owned businesses to take advantage of new opportunities. This is vital in the best of times, but will become particularly important as businesses face the obstacles associated with New Jersey’s COVID-19 outbreak.”
The first cohort of small business owners to participate in the program graduated in May 2019. Of the 27 graduating businesses in that class, 13 have qualified for more than $11.4 million in surety bonding, and 24 have successfully bid on public contracts.
Following this success, the NJEDA and AACCNJ expanded the program. New classes based in Jersey City and Camden ran from February 2020 through April 2020, but participants continue to meet virtually to support one another as they face the challenges posed by COVID-19. 15 of the 16 businesses in the Jersey City class and 11 of the 12 in the Camden class are women- or minority-owned. Since the conclusion of the formal program, 13 businesses in this cohort have already qualified for a combined $5.6 million in surety bonding, with individual businesses’ bonding capacities ranging from $100,000 to $750,000.
“Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey and the NJEDA remain laser focused on positioning New Jersey businesses for success,” said AACCNJ Founder, President, and CEO John Harmon. “We are extremely pleased with our partnership with the NJEDA and the value we have been able to provide to businesses by helping them secure surety bonds. These bonds will definitely strengthen the competitiveness of these businesses.”
The NJEDA and AACCNJ are currently accepting applications for a third Small Business Bonding Readiness Assistance Program class hosted at Stockton University in Atlantic City. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, this class will be conducted virtually. For more information and to apply visit https://www.aaccnj.com/bonding-program—sbbrap.html.