While the New Jersey Business Action Center's call center has assisted more than 43,000 business owners since its inception to help the state grow, retain and attract businesses and jobs, its lack of Spanish-speaking staff has prevented the state's 68,377 Latino-owned businesses from accessing the center's resources and services.
To break through the language barrier and provide answers to these business owners, the BAC has begun to supply Spanish-speaking representatives at its call center.
"It is imperative to our economy that these business owners have full access to the valuable resources we offer," Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno said in a statement, noting Latino-owned companies in New Jersey currently earn a combined $10.1 billion in revenue. "The addition of a dedicated Spanish language service ensures that our commitment to counseling all New Jersey business owners is fulfilled."
According to a state marketing spokeswoman, the initiative complements the BAC's efforts to develop trade and business relations with foreign countries, such as Mexico and Portugal, through its new Office of International Business Development and Protocol — where a "number of staff members are fluent in many different languages." As more foreign companies invest and locate in New Jersey, the center's commitment to serving those populations will grow, the spokeswoman said.
"If a call comes in that's in French, Mandarin or Portuguese, there's someone on the international staff who can help answer those questions, so we're covered," the spokeswoman said. "If there's something we're presented with, our staff is diverse enough that we'll be able to address it — and we'll continue to grow in that area … so whatever nationality calls, speaking whatever language, we are able to assist them."
In a statement, Carlos A. Medina, chairman of the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, said the BAC's call center initiative supports the chamber's central purpose to "expand business opportunities for our members and for all of New Jersey's Hispanic-owned businesses."
Members of the Latino business community with questions about starting or growing a business can reach a Spanish-speaking BAC representative by calling (866) 534-7789 and choosing a prompt for Spanish language. The state's one-stop shop online business portal at www.newjerseybusiness.gov also can be translated into Spanish.