The first of what will be a series of roundtable events for minority small business owners in New Jersey was held in Camden this morning by U.S. Sen. Cory Booker.
The need to focus on small business is crucial, Booker said, noting that 1.7 million New Jersey residents are employed by small businesses, making up about 50 percent of the state's workforce.
"Small businesses in the United States of America and small businesses in New Jersey are the major drivers of jobs," Booker said.
And as for minority-owned small businesses in the Garden State, Booker said the numbers coming in are "big", but at the same time "not big enough."
That's why he said he plans on hosting more forums across the state in the future with the possibility that others will have a sharper theme, such as tech startups and the like.
Panelists at Friday's event represented various sectors of the small business community, ranging from small business incubators to academics to banks.
"There's no dumb question," Booker told the audience, urging them to ask questions of the panelists.
Topics covered included securing small business loans, getting access to capital and developing successful business plans and strategies.
Mayor Dana Redd said she was "delighted" to have Booker choose Camden as the first location for the event series. Redd said that while the city continues to explore the economic growth opportunities now available to it under the Economic Opportunity Act, maintaining a focus on small business is also vital to Camden's recovery.
"We also recognize the importance of the small business community as being the lifeblood of any urban center and so we want them to be strengthened," Redd said. "This symposium and forum offers not only technical assistance but also the opportunity to network among their peers and also to get vital information to either starting a business, maintaining a business or expanding a business. We couldn't be happier to have our senator here."
ALSO ON NJBIZ: