TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman John DiMaio questioned Gov. Phil Murphy’s 65 percent cut to funding for Small Business Development Centers at an Assembly budget hearing April 29.
“The governor has said many, many times that he wants to help small businesses grow and drive economic growth in the state,” said DiMaio (R-Warren). “And yet we are cutting the funding by 65 percent.”
Centers can receive up to a certain amount of funding as outlined in each year’s budget. Next year, Murphy proposes to cut the amount they can receive to $250,000, down from $700,000.
Melanie Willoughby, the executive director of the New Jersey Business Action Center, testified that it was her understanding that the centers were not reporting financial information but could not provide the committee with any details.
“I’m having a hard time buying this frankly,” DiMaio said to Willoughby holding fact sheets provided by the SBDC. “There is a lot of good this organization does.”
DiMaio noted that the development centers have 12 locations statewide. In 2018, the centers helped save and create over 15,000 jobs, facilitated nearly $120 million in loans and equity, and helped generate $1.5 billion worth of business for 4,219 clients, according to its reports.
His primary concern was the loss of federal funding. Every dollar appropriated by the state is matched by the federal government.
“A call center is not the same as a place you can walk into and get that physical assistance,” explained DiMaio, who owned a general contracting business. “I ran a business for 41 years. I know what it’s like to be in the trenches, literally.”