In a letter to the editor, Republican State Committeeman Joshua Sotomayor Einstein says that the Jersey City Economic Development Corporation is making it more difficult than the state does for small businesses to get matching grants.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop made headlines in early April by announcing the city would be offering matching grants for small businesses which had received support from the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.
The Jersey City program, capped at $5,000 and administered by the Jersey City Economic Development Corporation (not the city’s in-house Division of Economic Development), a quasi-independent organization, may be the only of its kind across the state’s hundreds of municipalities.
According to some local business owners, however, the program seems to be a mere public relation ploy by the Fulop administration.
The business owners, who wish to remain anonymous out of concern for reprisals against their establishments, posit that as the city program required more paper work than the state program it was allegedly designed to match and did not account for the reality that many urban small businesses do not have the full roster of paperwork required by the city program; the matching grant was never intended to help the vast majority of Jersey City small businesses in the first place.
From corner stores to pizzerias and bodegas to ethnic food spots, entrepreneurs, many of whom are from hardscrabble backgrounds, and including immigrants, may not have the luxury of having all the formal documentation needed to receive some of their tax dollars back through the city program.
Business owners in economically left behind neighborhoods are often pre-occupied with keeping a small business afloat in a competitive market and were already facing the double challenges of a rising cost of living in Jersey City as well as online competition and big chains.
Small businesses are the cornerstone of the state, Hudson County, and Jersey City economies. Most are the sole income source for the entrepreneurial American or immigrant with little formal accreditation but with drive, determination, and intelligence.
Every medium sized employer and large business began, once long ago on a hope, prayer, hard work, and sweat equity invested in it by its founders, as a small business.
Yet rather than recognize this as the state grant did by making it as easy as legally possible for small business entrepreneurs to receive some of the tax dollars they have paid the state over the years in a desperate attempt to stay afloat during the crisis, the Jersey City matching program seemingly put up barriers for many who embody the best of the American spirit.
Whether on the state or local level, stimulus for economic recovery means lowering the cost of doing business, reducing taxes, and eliminating artificial government induced stimuli increasing cost of living.
Rather than pursuing those measures and allowing everyone, small business owners included, to keep more of their own money to invest in their future, irresponsible leaders across the state are planning on or have already increased the burden on the people by raising taxes.
Undoubtedly, the taking of greater amounts of the people’s money at a time when over a million New Jerseyans are without work, thousands upon thousands have had pay cuts, and many may not have a job to return to after the crisis, will stymie the economic comeback all New Jerseyans hope for.
Ostensibly just as bad, self-defeating, and ridiculous as the attempts to tax our state into prosperity is Jersey City’s small business matching grant program, though it ginned up a fair amount of media attention, seemingly by design it ignored many of Jersey City’s smallest businesses.
Joshua Sotomayor Einstein
New Jersey Republican State Committeeman
Editor’s note: The application in question can be viewed here.