Elizabeth, NJ- If you are an entrepreneur, or if you have a great idea for a new business, you should consider investing in the city of Elizabeth. If your line of business matches what the city wants and needs, you could get a substantial boost from the Elizabeth Development Company (EDC), a private non-profit corporation that since 1977 has “helped with the economic development of Elizabeth, and to create new jobs,” said Carlos Sanchez, EDC’s Director of Financial Programs and Projects.
The city of Elizabeth is part of the Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ), a statewide program focused on stimulating the growth of communities by encouraging businesses to create private sector jobs.
According to Oscar L. Cortizo, EDC’s loan officer and assistant, UEZ provides EDC with a pool of money to help finance prospective businesses through grants and very low interest loans. The UEZ offers certified businesses the following benefits: sales tax exemption, the possibility to charge their clients one half of the normal sale tax (only 3.5%) on most retail items. These benefits are meant to promote the creation of new and expansion of existing businesses, resulting in job creation.
EDC schedules several meetings in the community to make sure the prospective businesses “are in accordance to what the community in that particular neighborhood wants and need”, said Sanchez. “Every meeting is planned around each project. We let people know the time, date, and location through flyers, emails, and in the future, through ElizabethInsideOut.”
An example of a businesses that the city is looking to welcome in the Seaport area is “a supermarket, because the residents here don’t have easy access to quality shopping. EDC just helped finance a small 7,500 sq. ft. full service supermarket which will be located on 1st Street. We also need a pharmacy for the elderly and we are looking to bring a Dunkin Donuts and a Baskin Robbins for the kids as well,” said Sanchez.
Other businesses that have been successfully established in the city with the help of EDC are Sonic, which opened in 2011, and MD Care, Urgent Care Medical Center, which opened in 2011. Both owners expressed their gratitude and satisfaction with the company, the quality of services provided and the staff.
“They have been very supportive to our company and ultimately a factor in our success at our current location on Spring Street. They are always accessible and any request we have made in the past two years has been expediently followed up on. It is a very professional team,” said Maria Marchigiano, co-owner of the Elizabeth Sonic Drive-In.
“The staff at the EDC has been nothing more than courteous and professional answering all of our questions and making me feel at ease about our financial needs. I am glad to have sought the EDC for assistance and gladly recommend their services to any other business owners in the Elizabeth community,” said president and owner of MD Care, Kamran Tasharofi, MD.
EDC’s recipe for happy customers is simply to mentor and work closely with them throughout the process.
Before getting the funds to finance any project, EDC requires clients to have a business plan. “It’s considered the bible of any business,” said Cortizo. In order to create the plan EDC guides the client. “We will not write a client’s business plan,” added Sanchez. “We offer a template that the client can follow.”
If a client has difficulties in writing the Business Plan, EDC directs them to the next step. “Clients are referred to either the Union County Economic Development Corporation or the Small Business Development Center at Kean University. These programs offer technical assistance free of charge,” said Cortizo. “They review and make recommendations on each business plan.”
The most essential component for EDC is to teach each client how to run his or her business correctly. “We don’t concentrate so much on how many businesses receive our benefits but more on how many people we can educate so that when they open a business they know exactly what they are getting into,” remarked Sanchez.
“Before opening a business you should know your industry, the product you’re selling, your customer, and what the potential costs will be,” he said. There are a lot of people that “invest all of their life savings but don’t have the necessary experience and in a period of five to six months, they have closed down and lost everything.”
Other requirements include, “client’s credit history along with three years personal tax returns. Should a business be already established, we ask for the last three years of the business tax returns,” explained Cortizo.
Once all of the prerequisites have been met, EDC will help their customers acquire the capital to start a business.
EDC strives to be the best financial organization in order to ensure that Elizabeth stands out from other UEZ cities. “We are not afraid to look at different ideas and possibilities when approaching a project. Furthermore, EDC has the lowest interest on loans available, and we are the only corporation that offers micro loans with a grant component,” revealed Sanchez. To learn more about the specific loan programs, please contact Mr. Carlos Sanchez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recently, the state passed budget cuts for UEZ, which has affected EDC. But the corporation has no plans to change or eliminate any of its loan programs. “We are going to raise the funds necessary in order to keep the programs and benefits for Elizabeth.
“We are currently talking with the city of Elizabeth to see how we can continue to provide the same products and services that we have offered for the last 35 years. We are also going to turn to our private partners for help,” promised Sanchez.
For 35 years, EDC has proven to be an invaluable partner for the city of Elizabeth. “Encouraging economic development and promoting growth throughout the city. The Elizabeth Development Company offers diverse programs ranging from loan assistance to the beautification of our business districts,” noted Mayor J. Christian Bollwage. “Facilitating enhancements, expansions and quality of life improvements, the Elizabeth Development Company (EDC) continues to provide merchants and residents with the opportunities and resources to achieve success.”
“EDC has expanded its role as a partner and project manager for many development projects both private and not for profit. Some of the projects include a new library branch, community center and a one stop employment and training center in the Jersey Gardens Mall the second of its kind in the country. It has helped Elizabeth grow and change by creating thousands of job opportunities and by revitalizing entire neighborhoods such as E-port,” explained Executive Director Daniel Devanney.
“Regardless of the budget cuts and high unemployment due to the national economic crisis, we have created jobs in the city of Elizabeth. One of the reasons being that for every $50,000 a business owner borrows, EDC requires them to create one full-time position,” said Cortizo.
In addition, EDC encourages clients to hire residents from Elizabeth.
EDC funds an employment program through UEZ. “The Elizabeth Retail Skill Center out of Jersey Gardens mall,” said Cortizo. “They help place residents of Elizabeth into jobs.”
According to a report from The Retail Skill Center, since 2008, they have seen a steady growth in job placements.
In the future, the city of Elizabeth can expect further job growth and improvement thanks to EDC. “I know the city has been working to accelerate Elizabeth’s Midtown redevelopment and I think within the next few years, you are going to be able to see that,” predicted Cortizo. “That area of Elizabeth, to me, will be a mecca of retail within the next few years. I truly believe that Elizabeth has the potential to be the next urban city to see a surge in redevelopment..”
“A perspective business owner should look to work with EDC because we are a customer friendly one stop facility that can help people with everything from getting certified in the Urban Enterprise Zone, to writing a business plan, to applying for business financing. EDC offers a full range of economic development programs designed to provide all the resources you need to make your business prosper,” explained Devanney
All in all, “EDC is here to help the community. People that want to open a business should not worry about not knowing English because most people in Elizabeth and many at EDC speak Spanish,” said Sanchez. “What people should worry about is doing their homework before they invest and sign anything.”
Any prospective new business owner or established business looking to expand and be part of the advancement of Elizabeth, should reach EDC by phone: (908) 289-0262 or by e-mail: email@example.com. and take advantage of all the services and benefits it has to offer.