The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) launched a pilot E-Commerce Technical Assistance Program, which will help New Jersey restaurants, retail stores, and personal care businesses continue to operate safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Authority has engaged the services of Hudson Integrated, Positive Solutions, and Suasion Communications Group to help businesses that normally rely on foot traffic and in-person transactions identify and implement the website and ecommerce capabilities they need to stay in business while complying with current health guidelines and changing customer preferences. Businesses in need of assistance can sign up for the program here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/njedaecommerce.
 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has required many storefront businesses that are used to relying on foot traffic and in-person transactions to quickly shift to a more virtual business model. This can be an overwhelming and expensive proposition at a moment when business owners are short on both money and time,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan, who serves as a Co-Chair of New Jersey’s COVID-19 Restart and Recovery Advisory Council. “The three agencies we have contracted have the expertise to help businesses quickly and confidently pivot to a model that will allow them to remain viable while keeping their customers and employees safe.”In May 2020, Governor Murphy established the Restart and Recovery Commission to guide New Jersey’s recovery from the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the most pressing concerns the Commission identified is small businesses’ need for assistance transitioning in-person activities to a digital space that is safer for businesses owners, employees, and customers.

Drawing on the Commission’s insights, the NJEDA crafted the Ecommerce Technical Assistance Program to provide a variety of services for businesses, from designing and implementing electronic systems for placing orders, processing payments, and booking appointments to training business owners and staff to effectively use and maintain these new ecommerce tools. In addition to supporting clients who fill out the NJEDA’s intake form, the marketing firms the NJEDA has contracted with for the Program are also required to seek out businesses to support.

To ensure this assistance is available to firms that need it most, the NJEDA has required them to make a good faith effort to ensure that at least one-third of the clients they serve are located within approved Opportunity Zone-eligible census tracts and to focus on serving small, women-, minority-, veteran- and disabled veteran-owned businesses. A map showing the targeted census tracts is available here.
 
During the pilot phase, the Ecommerce Technical Assistance Program is open only to restaurants, retail stores, and personal care businesses that are registered and have a physical storefront in the State of New Jersey. Future expansions of the program may open it up to a broader range of businesses. Interested business owners should sign up via the intake form or contact ecommerceta@njeda.com.
 
To read Governor Murphy’s full economic plan, please visit: https://nj.gov/economicplan. To learn more about NJEDA resources for businesses call NJEDA Customer Care at 609-858-6767 or visit https://www.njeda.com and follow @NewJerseyEDA on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.