NJEDA Supported Cape May Project Awarded USDA Rural Development Grant
TRENTON, N.J. (September 3, 2020) – The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) today announced that Atlantic Cape Community College (ACCC) has received a $40,000 Rural Business Development Grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to support bizHub Cape May County, a collaborative effort to provide the first small business and entrepreneur resource center in Cape May County. bizHub was one of 14 projects planned with support from the NJEDA’s Innovation Challenge.
“The NJEDA congratulates Cape May County and the many stakeholders who have been involved in the project on securing the funding to turn the bizHub plan into reality. Entrepreneurship and creative new businesses will be a crucial element of New Jersey’s recovery from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “We are excited to see this project, which was planned with support from our Innovation Challenge, receive the funding needed to succeed.”
“We are grateful that Atlantic Cape has received the $40,000 from the USDA to support the bizHub in Cape May County,” stated Dr. Barbara L. Gaba, President of Atlantic Cape Community College. “The Rural Business Development Grant is important to the work we began with NJEDA support and will help us continue our economic development efforts. Our partnerships with the Cape May County Freeholders and Crest Savings Bank are unwavering, especially now when current and future entrepreneurs need our support more than ever before.”
The NJEDA launched the Innovation Challenge in 2018 to support Governor Phil Murphy’s vision for New Jersey as the state of innovation. The program provided $100,000 grants to municipal and county governments to support planning for key investments in projects that expand communities’ innovation ecosystems and create new opportunities for established businesses and workers. To date, the Authority has awarded 14 grants worth $1.4 million through the program.
bizHub is a collaborative project led by Atlantic Cape Community College (ACCC), Cape May County government, the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce, Crest Savings Bank, SCORE, and the South Jersey Economic Development District to create a small business support center in Cape May County. The project received a $100,000 grant through the NJEDA’s Innovation Challenge to support efforts to study the need for small business support services in Cape May County and plan the most effective way to provide those services.
“We are thrilled that the bizHub project has received USDA funding, but we could not have reached this point without the NJEDA’s support early in the process,” said Louis C. Joyce, Executive Director of the South Jersey Economic Development District. “The NJEDA’s Innovation Challenge grant allowed us to study the need for small business support in Cape May County and craft a plan that will provide assistance programs that address the unique challenges business owners and entrepreneurs in our region face. This was vital support that paved the way for us to successfully apply for federal funds.”
With NJEDA support, the bizHub team convened a Working Group dedicated to planning the project and conducted focus groups with relevant stakeholders, including people seeking to start or expand a business in Cape May County, successful business owners in the region, and professionals that assist in the business creation process, such as bankers, lawyers, accountants, and real estate agents. Through these efforts, the Working Group confirmed the need for an accessible, centralized small business resource center and crafted a plan for the bizHub to identify, train, and provide technical assistance to existing and prospective entrepreneurs and business managers with a particular focus on women, minority, and veteran-owned businesses. These services are particularly important in Cape May County, where the rural landscape and seasonal, tourism-driven economy have made large-scale economic development efforts challenging.
“The Cape May County Chamber is excited to partner with Atlantic Cape in creating this business resource center for the local business community,” stated Vicki Clark, President, Cape May County Chamber and bizHub Working Group member. “Cape May County offers many opportunities for the aspiring entrepreneur, but the challenges can often seem overwhelming and new business owners are often frustrated with uncertainty of who to turn to for help. This new business resource center will provide aspiring business owners and those looking for assistance with the tools necessary to succeed in today’s marketplace.”
Drawing on the strength of this plan, the bizHub Working Group successfully applied for a $40,000 Rural Development Grant from the USDA. This program provides funding for rural projects that finance and facilitate development of small and emerging rural businesses, distance learning networks, and employment related adult education programs.
“I am proud to announce this critical funding to one of the areas most affected by COVID-19: small business. Investments like this are paramount to the goals of President Trump set forth in his Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity,” stated USDA New Jersey State Director Michael Thulen Jr. “This grant will pay dividends for years with business growth in Cape May’s Rural Community. It is truly an honor to give back to communities and help those seeking family sustaining jobs throughout this fantastic county.”
In addition to the USDA Grant Funding, the Cape May County Freeholder Board has provided $20,000 to support the project and Crest Savings Bank contributed $10,000. ACCC has also provided a matching in-kind donation of staff, classroom space on the college’s campus, and equipment to facilitate technical assistance training programs. Together these commitments have fully funded the bizHub project.
“Our region has needed to find new ways to support our business community during these times of rapid change that existed even before the challenges of COVID-19,” said Nancy Cleaver, Chief Lending Officer for Crest Savings Bank and bizHub Working Group member. “It is gratifying that the solution we developed over the last few years is about to become a reality, when we need it most.”
bizHub Cape May County will launch in the fall of 2020. Business owners seeking more information should email Maria Kellett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the New Jersey Economic Development Authority
The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) serves as the State’s principal agency for driving economic growth. The NJEDA is committed to making New Jersey a national model for inclusive and sustainable economic development by focusing on key strategies to help build strong and dynamic communities, create good jobs for New Jersey residents, and provide pathways to a stronger and fairer economy. Through partnerships with a diverse range of stakeholders, the NJEDA creates and implements initiatives to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life in the State and strengthen New Jersey’s long-term economic competitiveness.