NJ Gives First-Time Entrepreneurs Money To Start Their Own Business
Patch News

NJ Gives First-Time Entrepreneurs Money To Start Their Own Business

NEW JERSEY — Do you have a great business idea, but you are scared to quit your job or try to launch your business full time?

For the first time ever, the state of New Jersey will give money to entrepreneurs so they can receive a paycheck for two years while they launch a start-up business.

These are grants, not loans. They do not have to be paid back to the state.

The program is part of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority program called New Jersey Innovation Fellows (NJIF).

Gov. Phil Murphy, who strongly backs the program, noted the idea is the state will provide “income replacement capital,” so entrepreneurs can devote their full-time attention to building their business.

According to NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan, founding a startup business is a big risk, and it often requires entrepreneurs to forego an income or paycheck in the first years of launching their business, .

“This program is designed to give people the financial flexibility and foundational support to take calculated business risks and follow their entrepreneurial dreams,” Sullivan said.

The program is currently under development and the state anticipates that applications will open in early 2023. Once the application is live, it will be available online.

NJIF will award grants of $200,000 per team. However, teams may access an additional $50,000 award on top of the $200,000 base if one entrepreneur verifies residency in a designated Opportunity Zone in New Jersey. Here is a list of all the New Jersey towns that qualify as opportunity zones:

  • Asbury Park City
  • Atlantic City
  • Bayonne City
  • Belleville Township
  • Bergenfield Borough
  • Bloomfield Township
  • Brick Township
  • Bridgeton City
  • Burlington City
  • Camden City
  • Carteret Borough
  • Cliffside Park Borough
  • Clifton City
  • East Orange City
  • Elizabeth City
  • Garfield City
  • Glassboro Borough
  • Gloucester City
  • Gloucester Township
  • Hackensack City
  • Harrison Town
  • Hillside Township
  • Hoboken City
  • Irvington Township
  • Jersey City
  • Keansburg
  • Kearny Town
  • Lakewood Township
  • Lindenwold Borough
  • Lodi Borough
  • Long Branch City
  • Millville City
  • Monroe Township
  • Montclair Township
  • Mount Holly Township
  • Neptune
  • Neptune City Borough
  • Neptune Township
  • New Brunswick City
  • Newark City
  • North Bergen Township
  • Nutley Township
  • Old Bridge Township
  • Orange City
  • Passaic City
  • Paterson City
  • Pemberton Township
  • Penns Grove Borough
  • Pennsauken Township
  • Perth Amboy City
  • Phillipsburg Town
  • Plainfield City
  • Pleasantville City
  • Rahway City
  • Roselle Borough
  • Salem City
  • Seaside Heights
  • Secaucus
  • Trenton City
  • Union City
  • Vineland City
  • Weehawken Township
  • West New York Town
  • West New York Township
  • Willingboro Township
  • Winslow Township
  • Woodbridge Township
  • Woodbury City

Also, teams may be awarded an additional $50,000 for each entrepreneur leader who self-certifies as a minority or female entrepreneur or is a graduate of a New Jersey college or university.

Qualifying teams may even receive additional bonuses of up to $150,000 in aggregate for certifying team members. This results in a total $400,000 the state will give to young entrepreneurs if they qualify.

Awards will be disbursed over eight quarters to teams that meet and maintain compliance milestones. So, in other words, the young people will not get a big lump sum of cash all at once.

To be eligible for the NJIF Program, at least half of the team must certify as “first-time entrepreneurs” and at least two-thirds of the entrepreneur team must be coming directly from the workforce.

All entrepreneur fellows will participate in a mentorship program with the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT in Newark) or Rowan University in South Jersey. That means these entrepreneurs have to take classes in subjects such as managerial finance, accounting, and financial statement preparations; human resources development and management; business model design; marketing and customer development and more.

The mentorship will last for the duration of the two-year NJIF Program.

Gov. Murphy said it is important to attract budding entrepreneurs who are young people of color or who come from poor communities, no matter what race they are.

“New Jersey is committed to ensuring that passionate entrepreneurs are equipped with the resources they need to turn their innovative ideas and vision into a viable enterprise,” said Murphy. “By supplementing the income of startup founders, we are helping to remove the barriers that too often exist on the path to success. The NJIF Program will be a game-changer.”

“We are working to level the playing field for prospective New Jersey entrepreneurs by ensuring they have access to capital and mentorship, regardless of their socio-economic status,” said Sullivan. “Providing grants through the NJIF Program will give more individuals the financial flexibility to take calculated business risks and follow their entrepreneurial dreams.”

Think you have a great business idea? Apply here when the application process opens in 2023.

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