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NJEDA Announces Partnerships to Enhance Outreach to Minority-, Women-, LGBTQ-Owned Businesses

New Jersey Economic Development Authority | Press Release

TRENTON, N.J. (May 29, 2020) – The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) today announced partnerships with three leading minority- and women-owned marketing and public relations firms to enhance the Authority’s efforts to help minority-, women-, and veteran-owned businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic prepare to apply for the second round of Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program funding.

Medina = Citi360 Marketing & PR, and Tara Dowdell Group will collaborate with the NJEDA to raise awareness of the $45 million grant program through public relations, webinars, teleconferences, targeted advertising, and grassroots outreach focused on targeted communities that have faced challenges accessing State and federal COVID-19 relief.

“Equity creates economic strength. Ensuring minority- and women-owned businesses have equal access to COVID-19 relief funds not only benefits these businesses and their employees, but it also helps us lay the foundation for a broad, robust economic recovery,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “The NJEDA is proud to partner with leading marketing and public relations agencies who specialize in connecting with these targeted groups to ensure we continue moving toward our goal of building a stronger, fairer economy during these trying times.”

The outbreak of novel coronavirus has created a major public health and economic crisis in New Jersey. To mitigate the economic impacts, the NJEDA created the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program. During Phase 1, the NJEDA supported more than 1,500 businesses across all 21 counties with $5 million in grants.

Phase 2 expands the program using $45 million from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund established under the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Eligibility changes for Phase 2 significantly expand the types and size of businesses that can apply for funding. Of the $45 million available, $15 million of Phase 2 funding will be set aside to support qualified businesses located in one of the 715 census tracts that were eligible to be selected as Opportunity Zones.

To ensure minority and women business owners are aware of the funding available through Phase 2 of the Grant Program and are prepared to apply, the NJEDA has contracted with Medina = Citi, 360 Marketing and PR, and Tara Dowdell Group to coordinate strategic outreach to these targeted communities. Solicitations were sent to select firms based on relevant experience and track record of success reaching the target audiences. Firms submitted proposals and were selected based on the strength of their proposed plans and established connections to diverse communities across the state. Each contract is for $10,000, for a total NJEDA expenditure of $30,000. All three firms are minority-owned; 360 Marketing and PR and Tara Dowdell Group are women-owned.

Medina = Citi is a visual and multi-media design haus based in the Greater Newark Area that specializes in branding campaigns, website development, video production, and social media management. Creative Director Medina also founded EQUAL SPACE, the largest Black/Brown-owned co-working space in Newark and helped establish the NJ LGBT Chamber of Commerce. The firm will support the NJEDA’s outreach efforts with targeted message development, outreach to strategic partners in North Jersey, direct calls and emails to eligible small business owners, and webinars and other publicly accessible teleconferences for businesses in Opportunity Zones.

“This initiative is indicative of the commitment and leadership of the NJEDA to support multi-cultural small business owners who have been overlooked for support,” said Medina, Medina = Citi Creative Director. “Phase Two has been substantially expanded budget-wise to be more inclusive for business owners who are sole proprietors and home-based. I am incredibly proud to be a part of these endeavors which will expand the reach of the program and provide greater support for business owners in our state.”

Camden-based 360 Marketing and PR is a full-service agency providing services such as multi-media design, community outreach & engagement, multichannel marketing, public relations, consulting, and brand development & management. The team will focus on raising awareness about the NJEDA’s expanded Grant Program through social media, paid advertising, and a grassroots community outreach push focused on South Jersey.

“As a minority microbusiness ourselves, we’re extremely excited to see the NJEDA roll out an additional grant for minority businesses, especially for those in Opportunity Zones,” said Vania Abdul-Badee, CMO at 360 Marketing and PR. “During this pandemic, we’ve seen time and time again a litany of minority businesses left out of receiving funding. In New Jersey, thousands applied and were denied, and for those who didn’t, it was because of barriers of accessibility. We look forward to assisting the NJEDA with awareness and addressing these issues so more businesses in our communities will apply and receive financial assistance.”

Tara Dowdell Group is a Jersey City-based strategic communications and marketing agency with deep experience in developing and promoting outreach programs aimed at small business owners for an array of public and private organizations. In addition to supporting the NJEDA’s outreach efforts with national, regional, and hyperlocal media, TDG will curate a grassroots campaign including a virtual town hall to discuss the next round of grants and other programs and resources that are available.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is exposing and exacerbating the long-standing inequity of historic barriers for small, minority, and women-owned businesses in accessing capital. This issue not only impacts the sustainability of these businesses, but it also impacts their workers and the communities where they are based,” explained Tara Dowdell, President of Tara Dowdell Group. “The full recovery of the state of New Jersey is contingent on the full recovery of these businesses. I’m honored that my agency has been selected to help ensure that the entities that contribute so much to our state’s economy and stability are being prioritized and afforded equal access to the funding and resources that are being made available. I commend Governor Murphy, Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, and NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan for making an investment of this magnitude into the survival of small businesses, and in particular, those from disinvested communities.”

Applications for Phase 2 of the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program will be available soon. Comprehensive information about New Jersey’s coronavirus response is available at https://cv.business.nj.gov.

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