New Jersey's investment in its network of Small Business Development Centers lags far behind that of other states, with funding levels totaling less than one-quarter of the nationwide average, according to survey results released today.
The national study found that the state's annual allocation to the centers is $250,000, while the average investment throughout the country is $1.1 million. The results, coupled with what the nonprofit network says is its high return on investment, are helping drive its call for Gov. Chris Christie and the Legislature to increase the funding level.
"As many of our state legislative leaders from both parties say over and over again, small businesses need more assistance now than ever," Deborah Smarth, the New Jersey network's chief operating officer and associate state director, said in a prepared statement. She said the investment is "even more important during the (Hurricane) Sandy recovery and rebuilding.
The SBDC, which is funded by the state and federal governments, includes 12 locations across the state and is a clearinghouse for small business resources. The group timed its announcement to coincide with National Small Business Week.
In a press release, the network said Christie's proposed budget for fiscal 2013-14 includes $250,000 for the SBDC sites. The release also noted funding had been as high as $1 million under Gov. Jon Corzine, but was reduced and frozen at $250,000 amid the belt-tightening of subsequent budget cycles.
Last year, the SBDC network said it counseled some 5,730 small-business clients, helped 632 clients start new businesses and facilitated $64.8 million in total financing.