Annual Highlights, 2014
Thanks to new programming and focused initiatives, UCEDC has enjoyed yet another year to remember! Here are just a few of the highlights.
UCEDC Takes on the Post-Sandy Economy
The storm had long passed, but small businesses were still feeling the economic impact in 2014. Virtually every business experienced some sort of business interruption after the storm. Others had significant losses. Too many were still suffering from the post-storm doldrums.
We knew that the key to getting these businesses back on solid footing was access to affordable working capital. That’s why, with the help of Investors Bank, we continued our Storm Recovery Program into 2014. We helped small businesses in all nine priority counties and elsewhere throughout New Jersey get out of their no-growth rut with $1.065 million in 2% storm loans, supporting $2.36 million in capital investment. (This was in addition to the 88 Storm Recovery Loans we made in 2013.)
But sometimes, money is only part of the solution; we put a totally new twist on ‘small business development’ in 2014 by designing a “make-over” program to help businesses in Seaside Heights make the most of the all-important 2014 summer season. The beachfront community suffered a double whammy – first Sandy, and only months later, a fire destroyed a portion of the boardwalk.
With the help of the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, we launched the First Impressions retail make-over program to assist businesses on and off the boardwalk to make the best possible ‘first impression’ by invigorating facades, freshening interiors, and adding colorful displays. UCEDC provided a $2,000 grant to 27 businesses to implement the customized design recommendations provided by our professional retail design consultant.
Patty Hershey, owner of the Shake Shoppe on the boardwalk (You can’t miss the giant ice cream cone), was thrilled to get UCEDC design consultant Nancy Zoraian’s fresh perspective on her location. “Thanks to UCEDC, with Nancy’s help and the grant, we’ve made some changes that make the arcade look terrific… better than ever.”
Small Businesses Put Down Roots Thanks to UCEDC Loan Program
Our fledgling SBA 504 Commercial Real Estate Loan Program took off in a big way in 2014, helping 11 small business owners to stop leasing and start owning through this unique low interest rate financing vehicle.
The 504 program offers borrowers the opportunity to purchase, construct or renovate their own building for as little as 10 % down along with the ability to roll soft costs and closing costs into the loan. Coupled with long-term (20 years), low-interest ( 5.0% at publication) rates, this cash-saving structure can make building ownership a reality for entrepreneurs who would otherwise not be able to afford the purchase.
The financing is achieved through a partnership between UCEDC and conventional lenders and the SBA. The conventional lender, typically a bank, approves 50% of the loan, and UCEDC provides financing for 40% of the project (with SBA’s approval).
Our 11 approved projects in 2014 ran the gamut from a dance studio to an office furniture warehouse and distribution center. With our lending partners, including banking giants, small community banks and credit unions, our loans totaled $9.6 million, leveraging $24 million in total project costs.
And when it comes to our lending services, we’re all about quality as well as quantity. UCEDC received two prestigious designations from the SBA in 2014 relating to the accuracy and completeness of our loan submissions: an overall 4-star rating for our efforts along with permission to submit less paperwork for the SBA’s review. The result – faster approvals for our clients!
Knowledge is Power
We’re always looking for ways to keep our roster of workshops fresh and relevant and 2014 was no exception. We added four new workshop topics to our offerings to address emerging challenges and opportunities for established businesses and would-be entrepreneurs.
Starting your own small business can seem like a never-ending series of challenges and decisions. Deciding on whether or not to go the franchise route is one of those big decisions many would-be entrepreneurs face. We’ve partnered with FranNet, one of the country’s largest franchise consulting companies, to provide solid advice in our new Introduction to Franchise Ownership.
New business or old, every operation has some sort of ‘intellectual property’ that has real value – customer lists, logos, even the business name. We launched the Intellectual Property Basics workshop to help small business owners recognize their intellectual property, learn how to protect it, and equally important, not to infringe on the intellectual property of others.
Our 25+ free workshops from our government contracting division provide the inside scoop on making sales to government agencies straight from key agency purchasing officials. Our latest partnership with the New Jersey Department of Treasury provided our clients with an in-depth briefing on NJ Start, the State’s new self-service online platform for vendors doing business with the State.
Depending on the services provided, a small business looking to get a government contract may have to prove that it’s bonded – a guarantee that the agency will be paid if the contractor does not fulfill the requirements of the contract. To reduce the confusion about the types of bonds available and to promote the availability of special bonding programs for disadvantaged businesses, we launched Getting Your Business Bonded: The Steps You Need to Take.
The schedule for all of our workshops can be easily found on our website.
Extending Our Reach
Our expanded training curriculum was complemented last year by an even-larger pool of training partners. We worked with Metuchen Savings Bank and Crown Bank for the first time to offer programs in local branches where bank staff helped us present the curriculum. This value added service for the bank’s account holders and prospective customers allows us to reach more businesses and solidify our relationships with our banking partners.
We were pleased to add a new partner to our roster of satellite locations: the Camden Co-Lab, a co-working and business accelerator community for entrepreneurs, businesses, and students. We’re providing individualized counseling/mentoring services to the Co-Lab’s tenants while presenting workshops at the location for the general small business community. This latest location is a key element in our efforts to provide accessible services to the South Jersey region.
UCEDC Teams with Fashion Favorite to Help Women Business Owners
She may be the CEO of a global fashion and lifestyle business, but Tory Burch remembers very well what it felt like to take that first big leap into small business ownership.
That’s why her foundation looked to UCEDC to be the official New Jersey non-profit lending partner for Elizabeth Street Capital, an initiative that supports women-owned and -operated businesses to foster economic independence and promote job creation. We’ve been working alongside Tory and her team, including Bank of America, to provide access to capital to growing women-owned businesses.
The initiative had a rousing kick-off at Liberty House Restaurant in Liberty State Park, where the crowd of 200+ women enjoyed a lively discussion between Toryand New Jersey Senator, Cory Booker about the challenges facing women in the small business world. The UCEDC team was on hand to answer questions about financing and training opportunities.
Building the Foundation for Jobs and Communities
Talk about a win-win situation: emerging local minority contractors and developers are winning redevelopment project bids in Newark with the help of UCEDC’s training team.
Millions of dollars are available for rehabilitation and redevelopment projects in Newark, but much of the work is typically awarded to outside businesses. Newark’s Community Asset Preservation Corporation and Laborers Local 55 decided it was time to bring some of these contracts home to local folks. And that’s when they turned to UCEDC for help.
While their construction skills may be first-rate, small construction companies typically don’t have the financial and management know-how to handle larger projects. Last year, UCEDC brought intensive training in Cash Flow Management and QuickBooks to this eager and committed audience.
With greater know-how and boosted confidence, local residents now have a chance to build sustainable, profitable operations and create jobs, all while stabilizing and revitalizing Newark’s neighborhoods. We’re proud to be part of this innovative effort!
Entrepreneurship Leads to New Life Outside of Prison
UCEDC has been offering entrepreneurial training to small business start-ups and established operations for decades. But in 2014 we entered into a unique partnership that brought our training to a group of would-be entrepreneurs who have more than usual at stake: formerly incarcerated men.
The REPENT program (Recidivism Prevention through Entrepreneurial Training) is sponsored by the Trenton Housing Authority and utilizes a combination of business and life skills training to provide job opportunities for ex-offenders who typically have trouble finding meaningful employment.
UCEDC created a customized entrepreneurial studies curriculum for the program while the Housing Authority worked with the students to reinforce UCEDC’s efforts and provide practical life skills coaching.
Two classes graduated in 2014. In the REPENT program, all of the students work together to create one viable business. The first class started a cleaning company, “The Green Klean Team”, and earned a contract from the Trenton Housing Authority to maintain several of its properties.
The second class formed “We R Media”, a multi-media marketing company. It is building awareness and raising money to fund the business and recently launched a pro bono voter campaign with the slogan, DARE 2B INFORM’D.
We were fortunate to welcome several new members to the UCEDC team in 2014. While they bring a diverse set of skills, professional backgrounds and life experiences to our organization, they all share a common commitment to small business development.
2014 at a Glance
|Type||Number||Amount||Project Cost||Jobs Created/
|2,360 hours||52 workshops||7 six-week programs||131 networking
|500 clients||1,200 attendees||45 attendees||58 partner events|
|$ Value of Contracts||Jobs Created / Retained|
|$200 million (est.)||4,000+ (est)|