Women-owned businesses capitalize on state resources to grow


By Melanie Willoughby, Executive Director, The New Jersey Business Action Center

Women-owned businesses make up 39.6% of business ownership in New Jersey, which is higher than the national average of 20.9%, according to the SBA’s Small Business Profile Report in the United States. United in 2021.

Women business owners often face obstacles when growing their business, including financing, hiring, scaling, finding business space, and accessing available incentives. What many people don’t know is that there are public resources that help businesses overcome these challenges and become profitable.

For example, the New Jersey Business Action Center (NJBAC) recently assisted SpectraSpray Global LLC, a women-owned and operated health and wellness company based in Morris County. The company has worked closely with NJBAC to access grants acquired through the New Jersey State Business Development Program (NJSTEP), a federally funded program facilitated by the Office of Export Promotion. With funding from the grant, SpectraSpray was able to market internationally and recently announced a distribution partnership with UA-PHARM, a Ukraine-based pharmacy with over 80 locations.

“I never imagined that the support received from the New Jersey Business Action Center would help me export my product,” said Janet Ryan, founder of Spectra Global LLC. “The guidance and support from the NJBAC team has opened up a whole new world to me. I look forward to exporting my product to other countries with the continued help of the team.



In addition to grants, the NJBAC provides immediate mentoring assistance. The NJBAC works with companies, like Don Ricky Columbian Bakery, to obtain important certifications.

Don Ricky Columbian Bakery, an Elizabeth-based bakery that has been in business for over 40 years, worked through the NJBAC to achieve its Small Business Enterprise (SBE) and Minority/Women-Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) certified status ) in New Jersey. The NJBAC also helped navigate the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s process to qualify for concession space at Newark International Airport.

“The help I received from the small business advocates at NJBAC was key in getting me the correct information and connecting me with the right people as I worked through the process of applying for dealership space at Newark International Airport,” said Sandra Rojas, general manager of Don Ricky Columbian Bakery. “I am delighted with the services I have received from NJBAC to fulfill our business aspirations and dreams.”

The NJBAC also helps women-owned businesses in New Jersey obtain free or low-cost technical assistance through its financial partnership with the NJ Small Business Development Centers. They also have a working relationship with the Women’s Center for Entrepreneurship Corporation (WCEC) and the Latin American Economic Development Association, Inc. (LAEDA). WCEC assists businesses in North Jersey and LAEDA covers the South Jersey region.

NJBAC’s in-depth understanding of all state programs and licensing laws can help women CEOs and entrepreneurs formulate sound and effective solutions. The NJBAC offers resources for business owners, covering everything from choosing a business name to payroll and tax issues.

In March, as we celebrate Women’s History Month, we encourage women who are currently in business or just getting started to contact NJBAC with any business questions. Our team of expert small business advocates can help you navigate the ins and outs of doing business in the Garden State, offering advice on planning, certifications, financial resources, technical assistance, expansion and more.

To reach NJBAC Small Business Advocates, please visit nj.gov/state/bac/request-a-meeting, call our 24/7 information line at 1-800-JERSEY-7. The NJBAC also offers a live chat facility where businesses can speak with experts, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET. To access live chat, visit: www.business.nj.gov.

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Melanie Willoughby is executive director of the New Jersey Business Action Center (NJBAC), an agency of the NJ Department of State. The NJBAC is a business-first resource that can help you get answers from government agencies, direct you to the appropriate officials or contacts, facilitate meetings and follow-ups with regulatory agencies and much more, all at no cost and strictly confidential. Follow the NJBAC Center on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/company/new-jersey-business-action-center/.

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