Free Help for Businesses During the Pandemic and Beyond
Who knows better than CPAs about businesses’ needs to grow, find financing, deal with a government snafu and handle a tax audit? The accountant is often the first to hear when a business is looking for a location, seeking to expand or ready to hire employees. They are also the first to get questions about state laws, regulations, permitting, licenses and more.
The New Jersey Business Action Center (NJBAC) can be the resource that CPAs turn to for answers to these questions. The NJBAC, a state office within the New Jersey Department of State, is ready to answer these questions in minutes or work with the CPA and business owner one-on-one to resolve more complicated issues.
The NJBAC offers help with the basics of starting a business, finding technical assistance, creating a business plan, selecting a form of incorporation and choosing a trade name. As the idea progresses, the NJBAC can help find lenders and state and federal lending or grant programs aimed at helping innovative companies get off the ground.
The Business Helpline, 1-800-JERSEY-7, can provide answers to CPAs or business owners directly. The hotline receives more than 25,000 calls a year and is answered by experienced people who work to get answers to questions quickly and efficiently. The NJBAC also staffs a live chat on the state business website, business.nj.gov, where questions can be submitted directly to business experts.
Starting Up or Expanding
Business Navigator is a new feature available on business.nj.gov that provides new businesses with a customized road map for starting their business and offers a dashboard of available resources for existing businesses. The Navigator is constantly evolving as new features and updated information are added. This is a valuable resource for businesses starting up.
The NJBAC can also help businesses find new locations, expand, construct their buildings and hire skilled workers by coordinating with state agencies such as the Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Community Affairs and Division of Consumer Affairs to develop solutions, set up meetings regarding permitting, licensing and regulatory challenges to help streamline the process, and more.
The NJBAC is also focused on helping businesses understand the new state laws that apply to them, such as family leave policies, paid sick leave and independent contractor negotiations and how to stay in compliance with these regulations. For instance, the NJBAC, was given responsibility for educating businesses about the new ban on plastic bags and polystyrene foam food service products (business.nj.gov/bags/plastic-ban-law).
Additional resources include the following:
No business is too big or too small for the NJBAC to work with, and all of the services are free. To learn more, visit nj.gov/state/bac or call 1-800-JERSEY-7.
Melanie L. Willoughby is the executive director of the New Jersey Business Action Center (NJBAC), a division of the New Jersey Department of State.
This article appeared in the Summer 2022 issue of New Jersey CPA magazine. Read the full issue.