Efforts continue to help women and minority business owners and entrepreneurs in New Jersey attract the capital to grow.

Tim Sullivan, the chief executive officer of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, said the EDA is committed to making the Garden State economy more equitable and diverse. Discussions are underway with members of academia, the business community, investors and others to get ideas about new strategies to help expand opportunities.

He said the goal is to make sure “New Jersey’s innovation economy looks like New Jersey.

"Diversity of our people is one of our great assets and we want to make sure that the jobs and investment that are attracted and generated for the innovation economy by the innovation economy benefit the people of New Jersey.”

Toward that end, he said a week and a half ago the EDA and Rutgers Business Schools convened what was described as the first-ever New Jersey Founders and Funders Diversity Roundtable event in Newark to talk about ideas, programs and initiatives to promote the fair allocation of capital to entrepreneurs of color, and how to support developing minority-owned firms.

“The good news is there’s lots of smart people in New Jersey who are working on this and have been working on this for a number of years, who can give us advice and suggestions," he said.

A new initiative is being formulated that will probably be rolled out in the next six to 12 months “to make sure that more capital, particularly venture capital, is flowing to women led startups and startups led by founders of color.”

Sullivan said the amount of venture capital flowing to companies founded by women and people of color has been extremely small, but “we feel we can move the needle in a positive direction here.”

Sullivan pointed out when venture capital supports minority-owned businesses it’s beneficial “not just for the founders but for the people that would work at those companies. When a company goes from five or 10 people to 500 or a thousand people, there’s an enormous job opportunity.”

He noted first lady Tammy Murphy has been working to establish a New Jersey chapter of Golden Seeds, a network of “angel investors” that helps direct capital to businesses owned by women and other minorities.

In addition, he said an angel investor tax credit law was signed a few months ago that provides a bonus “if the investment goes to a firm owned by women or people of color.”

He also noted this past summer a New Jersey Connects Business summit was held in conjunction with the state Office of Diversity and Inclusion to help minority businessmen develop a better understanding about how to network and take advantage of resources to encourage their companies to expand.

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