Jersey small business owners say corporations get all the economic breaks
A group of small business owners in New Jersey say they they are getting the short end of the stick when it comes to economic incentives and business breaks.
New Jersey Main Street representative Jerome Montes says his members want to see more accountability on the billions in incentives and subsidies that have been flowing to the 'bigs' in the state.
The alliance also wants better state policy to assure local towns support small business so they can support the local towns.
"You do not have a prosperous main street without prosperous small business and vise-versa," Montes said.
Montes said big money spend on large corporations could be better spent on public services and public education — which in turn would help foster a good small-business environment
"We really feel that it has gotten too skewed in one direction, and that it is much harder for the little guy, and the large corporations are receiving a little too much attention," he said.
A report last month by NJ Spotlight quoted New Jersey Policy Perspective saying the state's Economic Development Authority had approved $3.5 billion in subsidies between December 2013 and late 2015. The report said while the NJPP doesn't track how much of that goes to big or small business, it quoted Deputy Director Jon Whiten saying, “It's pretty clear that few or no ‘main street’ small businesses, which usually have less than 20, if not fewer, employees, have received subsidies after" a 2013 overhaul of the incentive system.
Some large corporate interests who have lobbies on hand in Trenton. The New Jersey Main Street Alliance, in turn, has Montes.
The alliance recently worked on trying to ensure that there was a good retirement plan for small business owners — one that was affordable, that was easy to use, "because a lot of small business owners really want to provide this for their employees, but are unable to," Montes said.
What does the Alliance seek from state government? According to Montes, first of all, you really have to guarantee that a certain amount of state aid, access to credit, access to capital, gets to small business owners in local Main Street communities — particularly those who are residents of those communities or who live nearby.
"By ensuring that, you really ensure that the profits that these small businesses are making are going right back into the community," he said.
The alliance is also in discussions with the state Economic Development Agency about its concerns about not being treated equally.
"They have been very considerate and would like to have talks with us, and we are looking forward to that," Montes said. "But we really need to make sure that these billions of dollars in subsidies that we have been giving away for quite some time are subject to proper accountability and analysis. .... We are giving away an awful lot of money that could be put to better use, and it is costing our communities and it is costing small business, and we need to know if that has worked or not."
Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New jersey 101.5