RELEASE: During Women’s History Month, Gottheimer Holds Roundtable With Women Small Business Owners

Mar 29, 2024
Press

Helps ensure women have the resources to start and grow small businesses in Jersey

Works to secure pay equity, expand access to capital and affordable childcare, lower taxes, and cut red tape

Above: Gottheimer with North Jersey women business owners and leaders.

PARAMUS, NJ — Today, March 29, 2024, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) held a roundtable with women small business owners and chamber of commerce leaders from across North Jersey to discuss issues impacting small businesses — including pay equity, access to childcare, cutting red tape, lowering taxes, and making starting and growing a business in New Jersey more affordable.

Video of Gottheimer’s opening remarks can be found here.

“I want to make it possible for generations of Jersey women to write entrepreneurship stories of their own,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “I won’t stop fighting for and your success.” 

Gottheimer is supporting women entrepreneurs in Jersey by:

  • Ensuring equal pay for equal work: Gottheimer introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act in 2017 to close the persistent gap between men and women’s earnings. Last year, he helped lead a resolution that recognizes the significance of pay disparities between men and women.
  • Expanding access to capital: Gottheimer helped shape and pass the American Rescue Plan, which required the Small Business Administration to implement its State Small Business Credit Initiative. SSBCI provides $10 billion to states like Jersey to expand capital access for small business owners. Gottheimer has also helped lead the Small Business Energy Loan Enhancement Act and Small Business Child Care Investment Act, which will make it easier for new businesses in the energy and childcare sectors respectively to secure SBA loans. Finally, Congressman Gottheimer announced at the roundtable that he had joined the Women’s Business Centers Improvement Act, which will expand funding for SBA Women’s Business Centers across the country that provide training and loan counseling for women business owners. 
  • Making childcare more affordable: Gottheimer launched his Childcare Affordability Plan in January to help parents go to work and ensure their children have the care they deserve and need to grow and learn safely, especially during their most critical developmental years. He helped pass the expanded Child Tax Credit and critical investments for Head Start in the House.
  • Helping lower taxes and cutting red tape: Gottheimer helped pass four bills out of the House to restore SALT, which would cut property taxes for Jersey business owners and families. He also led the Cut Red Tape Act to eliminate outdated bureaucracy, create jobs, back small businesses, and accelerate economic growth in New Jersey. 

Gottheimer was joined by Fair Lawn Mayor Gail Rottenstrich of ZAGO Manufacturing; Claudia Yarborough of the Small Business Administration’s New Jersey District Office; Amy Hummerstone of Verdigris Architects, LLC; Angela Logan of Mortgage Apple Cakes; Carol Rauscher of the North New Jersey Chamber of Commerce; Cameo Zvanetz of The Beauty Loft; Dr. Denise Anderson of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey; Dina Opici of Opici Family Distributing; Donna Perkosky of the Paramus Regional Chamber of Commerce; Elissa Frank of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association; Elyss Frenkel of Chicken Galore; Francia Magsaysay of Francy’s Artisanal Ice Cream; Jaime Lynn Geduldick of Haus Cafe; Jennifer Jackson of Ave Lumi; Jennifer Van Dam of the Paramus Regional Chamber of Commerce; Justine Boone of Treat Me Sweet Cookies; Rana Shanawani of Women’s Center for Entrepreneurship; Stella Lemberg of ABA Insurance; and Tammeisha Smith of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey.

Below: Gottheimer with North Jersey women business owners and leaders.

Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

Good morning. I’m honored to be here with all of you today. I am always proud to support our incredible business leaders from across North Jersey.

Small businesses are the engine of Jersey’s economy. There are more than 950,000 small businesses in New Jersey, which produce nearly half of our state’s jobs. Businesses like yours – architectural firms, hair salons, wine distributors, bakeries, jewelry stores, manufacturing companies, restaurants, boutiques, insurance companies, and more – enrich our communities.

Across the country, we’re seeing surging enthusiasm in entrepreneurship. Since 2021, 16 million new business applications have been filed, including a record-breaking 5.5 million applications last year. 

Things are heading in the right direction on the national level, but I don’t want to overlook the obstacles facing small business owners in our state. Jersey was recently named the seventh worst state in America to start a business, in part due to high cost of living. Our main streets are still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, all while we’re trying to adapt to e-commerce. That’s why I’m so focused on affordability, so you can create jobs, spur economic growth, and inspire others to start ventures of their own, right here in Jersey.

I’m aware that our state’s women business owners face additional barriers. Earlier this year, Governor Murphy’s office released a study of government contracting in our state. Even though women-owned businesses make up more than a third of the contracting pool, they received less than 10 percent of dollars from prime contracts. 

That disparity is outrageous, but it’s also a call to action: we have to make it easier for women across Jersey to start and grow businesses. I’m excited to discuss some of the issues that I’m focused on in Washington to support business leaders like you.

First, I’m committed to ensuring equal pay for equal work. One of the first bills I supported and helped pass when I came to Congress in 2017 was the Paycheck Fairness Act to close the persistent gap between men and women’s earnings. In Congress, I’m helping lead a resolution that recognizes the significance of pay disparities between men and women. Right now, in the United States, women earn just 84 cents for every dollar paid to men, and the disparities are larger for women of color. Pay fairness is the first step to help women entrepreneurs thrive. If women don’t earn enough in their full-time job, they can’t afford to take the plunge and start a business.

Second, I’m working to make it easier for women entrepreneurs to access capital. I’m happy to see the SBA is implementing an expanded State Small Business Credit Initiative, or SSBCI, which provides $10 billion to states like Jersey to expand capital access for small business owners. SSBCI was made possible by the American Rescue Plan, which I helped shape and pass. I’m also helping lead the Small Business Energy Loan Enhancement Act and Small Business Child Care Investment Act, which will make it easier for new businesses in the energy and childcare sectors to secure SBA loans. I’ve just joined the Women’s Business Centers Improvement Act, which will expand funding for centers across the country that provide loan counseling and training for women business owners. These centers already serve more than 150,000 business owners, and with this extra funding, they’ll be able to serve a lot more. It’s great to start small businesses, but I want to see each and every one prosper. Access to capital is critical to making that happen.

Third, I want to make sure our working moms can access affordable, quality childcare. In January, I launched my Childcare Affordability Plan. Jersey was ranked the second most expensive state in the country for childcare last year. Our families spend more than $400 dollars per week on average. These costs force so many moms in our state to choose between opening a business and taking care of their kids. As part of my plan, I helped pass an expanded Child Tax Credit through the House and helped secure critical investments for Head Start. In addition to my plan, I am proud to help lead the Child Care Stabilization Act, which would inject $300 million into childcare in New Jersey to help more than 4,400 providers – and serve more than 350,000 Jersey children. We need to be focused on making life more affordable in our state, and that starts with childcare.

Finally, I know that as small business owners, taxes and red tape are probably the first and last thing you think about every day. I continue to fight the good fight to restore the State and Local Tax Deduction, or SALT, to make life more affordable for Jersey families. I helped pass four bills out of the House to restore SALT and cut property taxes for Jersey business owners and families. But, all four times, the Senate Red Staters blocked the tax-cutting legislation. We’re on our way to getting the full SALT deduction back in 2025, but until then, I’ll keep working with Democrats and Republicans to get the SALT relief our communities so badly need. I am also proud to lead the bipartisan Cut Red Tape Act to eliminate outdated bureaucracy, create jobs, back our small businesses, and accelerate economic growth in New Jersey. More Jersey residents will start businesses when there are fewer obstacles in the way – lower taxes, less paperwork, and fewer unnecessary regulations.

Because it’s Women’s History Month, I wanted to finish by reminding us about the many women that have blazed the entrepreneurial trail in our state. We’re the home of Martha Stewart, who built a media and home goods empire. There’s Madame Louise Scott, who launched a line of beauty products and salons in Newark in the 1950s, becoming the city’s first African-American female millionaire. I also think of Sara Spencer Washington, who transformed her one-room beauty salon into a global cosmetics brand – and used her entrepreneurial gift to give back to Jersey’s African-American community.

I want to help even more Jersey women write entrepreneurship stories of their own. I won’t stop fighting for you – in my work on the Financial Services Committee, in the House Entrepreneurship Caucus, and in the Family Business Caucus. 

Once again, thank you for joining me today. I look forward to learning more about the issues you and your businesses are facing during this discussion. If you ever need support in navigating work with a federal agency like SBA, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office.

By working together to empower Jersey entrepreneurs, I know our best days will always be ahead of us.

Thank you. God bless you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

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