Discussing Ways to Work Together to Support Small Businesses, Combat Hate, Fight Crimes
Above: Gottheimer speaking with Korean American community and business leaders in North Jersey.
PARAMUS, NJ — U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) held a roundtable with community and business leaders from the Korean American community in North Jersey to discuss work to support small business, lower taxes, keep communities safe, help make life more affordable, and combat hate against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
Gottheimer was joined by leaders from the Korean American Grassroots Conference (KAGC), the Cleaners Association of New Jersey, the Korean American Realtors Association, the Korean American Law Enforcement Committee of New Jersey, the Overseas Korean Traders Association – New Jersey Chapter (OKTA NJ), the Asian Women’s Christian Association, the International Culture and Education Foundation, and the Thomas Jefferson Center of Palisades Park.
“A critical part of North Jersey’s strength is our proud Korean American community — which works every day to make the Fifth District an even better place to live, raise our families, and do business. It’s a key priority of mine to work with Korean American residents and small business owners to ensure that they never feel like their voices aren’t heard or that they have nowhere to turn. This is especially important now,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “We’re all joining together to help ensure our community’s small businesses are recovering from the pandemic-driven economy, that we’re making life more affordable for families in North Jersey, and that we’re standing up to fight crime and hate, to support law enforcement, and to keep all our communities safe.”
“We thank Congressman Gottheimer for his compassion and care for the small businesses across our community. The Korean American retail businesses have suffered severely from the pandemic, and we look forward to working together with the Congressman to bring more targeted support,” said Yongho Lee, president of the Cleaners Association of New Jersey, a statewide group of over 1,000 Korean American dry-cleaning businesses.
“Representative Gottheimer understands the grave dangers of bigoted violence threatening our community, and especially the senior citizens,” said Mi Kyung Je, President and Executive Director of the Asian Women’s Christian Association, a nonprofit in Teaneck that provides social engagement and homecare services. “We are optimistic that together with the Congressman we can close the gaps in senior services provided on the federal, state, and local level, and especially in providing transportation assistance to the elderly.”
“We appreciate Congressman Gottheimer’s support for our community, small businesses, and US-Korea trade,” said Matthew H. Son, Chief Advisor and President Emeritus of the Overseas Korean Traders Association’s New Jersey Chapter. “He understands that trade and immigration policies are closely tied to the local economy here in New Jersey, and we discussed how we can bolster the trade relations to revitalize the businesses across the state.”
During the roundtable discussion, Gottheimer and local leaders discussed issues affecting the community, including supply chain and other pandemic-related economic impacts on Korean American owned small businesses, the wave of racist, violent hate crimes against the Asian American and Pacific Islanders, and community safety.
Gottheimer’s work to support North Jersey includes:
Boosting North Jersey’s return on investment: Gottheimer is committed to lowering taxes and getting Fifth District residents a better return on the tax dollars they already send to Washington. Late last year, Gottheimer announced that, by working with Fifth District mayors, councils, first responders, and towns, the Fifth District clawed back $415 from Washington for every Fifth District household the year prior — a 112% increase from what the District has historically received. These dollars help first responders protect our communities while offsetting the strain on local budgets and property tax bills.
Fighting crime and supporting law enforcement: Gottheimer recently introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation, the Invest to Protect Act, to make critical, targeted investments in local police departments and ensure that police officers in smaller communities in North Jersey and across the country have the resources and training they need to keep themselves and their communities safe. The bipartisan legislation is endorsed by the National Fraternal Order of Police, National Association of Police Organizations, National Sheriffs’ Association, National Troopers Coalition, New Jersey State Troopers Fraternal Association, and New Jersey State Police Benevolent Association. Gottheimer, in his most recent reporting, also announced that the Fifth District clawed back more than $3.5 million of surplus federal equipment and resources for local law enforcement in 2020, as well as more than $2.7 million in federal investment to help hire law enforcement and help our police officers better protect our communities and themselves.
Lowering taxes and making life more affordable: Gottheimer recently unveiled a new Affordability Agenda for Jersey, which includes working to get fuel and energy prices down, cutting day-to-day costs like prescription drug and childcare costs, helping cut through red tape and bureaucracy, and cutting taxes for hard-working families, including by reinstating State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction. Gottheimer has led efforts in the House to restore the SALT deduction, to give an immediate tax cut to hard-working, middle class families in Jersey.
Fixing North Jersey’s crumbling infrastructure: Gottheimer helped lead the charge to shape and pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill last year, working with Democrats and Republicans to enact the greatest infrastructure investment in a century. This bipartisan bill will help build the new Gateway Train Tunnel, fix our crumbling roads, bridges, rail, and NJ Transit, help fight climate change, invest in our ports, expand broadband access to the unconnected, and get lead out of our children’s drinking water.
Supporting local small businesses: Gottheimer recently helped pass the bipartisan Relief for Restaurants and other Hard Hit Small Businesses Act, to claw back resources for small businesses that employ fewer than 200 people, suffered a 40 percent pandemic-related revenue loss, and did not previously receive certain grants. During the height of the pandemic, Gottheimer helped lead the Problem Solvers Caucus and a bipartisan group of Senators in writing and passing the $908 billion in COVID-19 relief to families, small businesses, and frontline workers, including a new round of PPP resources.
Combating hate: Since taking office, Gottheimer has helped Fifth District houses of worship, schools, and local community organizations claw back more than $6.3 million in federal Nonprofit Security Grants from FEMA, to invest in security for organizations that are at risk of a terrorist attack from homegrown and lone-wolf ISIS-inspired terrorists and white supremacists. Gottheimer helped pass Rep. Grace Meng’s resolution last Congress to condemn all forms of anti-Asian sentiment as related to COVID-19, and will support the resolution again this Congress. Gottheimer has also helped lead bipartisan efforts to work to pass the NO HATE Act, which has been endorsed by the Problem Solvers Caucus that Gottheimer co-chairs, to strengthen federal law to combat hate speech, threats, and attacks.
Working across the aisle: Gottheimer serves as the Co-Chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, where he works to bring the group of 29 Democrats and 29 Republicans together across party lines to find areas of agreement on key issues including lowering taxes, cutting health insurance premiums, and improving infrastructure to help the American people.
Below: Gottheimer with Korean American community and business leaders
Gottheimer’s opening remarks as prepared for delivery are below:
It’s a pleasure to speak with some incredible community and business leaders from the Korean American community here in North Jersey.
While today is about discussing what we can do together to support this community, I would be remiss not to mention that just this week, the special delegation on behalf of Korea’s president-elect visited Capitol Hill. Korea is one of America’s closest, most important allies — sharing key values such as democracy, human rights, and free market values. Korean Americans are the bridge between the two nations.
Now back to Fifth District: as we tackle so many issues together, a key part of North Jersey’s strength is our proud Korean American community — which works day in and day out to make this District an even better place to live, raise our families, and do business.
Here in Bergen, we’re proud to have more than 60,000 people of Korean descent call this County home, and Korean Americans make up more than 20 percent of the populations in our great Fifth District towns, Closter and Norwood. And the strength of the community expands throughout the state with more than 100,000 New Jersey residents with Korean ancestry — the third largest population in America.
From our local elected officials to business and community leaders, and to our many business owners throughout the Fifth District, it’s clear that the Korean American community is continuing to make an incredibly impressive mark on North Jersey.
That’s why I’m working so hard in Washington, here at home, and across the aisle, to support you, your families, the businesses in your communities, and everything you do. It’s a key priority of mine to work with Korean American residents and small business owners to ensure that you never feel like your voices aren’t heard or that you have nowhere to turn. This is especially important now.
We need to make sure that the needs of the Korean American community are heard at every level of government.
I know that the pandemic put an immense burden on small businesses, many are still feeling the effects, and today’s rising costs have introduced additional concerns of instability.
Small businesses are the lifeblood of New Jersey’s economy, constituting 99.6% of New Jersey businesses and employing 1.8 million New Jersey residents. And at least a quarter of New Jersey’s small businesses are minority-owned.
I’ve heard from many in the community that their businesses are struggling financially, which is why I’ve launched a new Affordability Agenda for Jersey, to help make life more affordable for North Jersey families. This agenda is about action we can take right now to help our families and small businesses with the COVID-driven impact on our economy — to get more money back into Jersey families’ pockets.
It includes aggressively addressing our COVID-driven supply chain crisis, including with new supply chain legislation I’ve introduced, and combating our dependence on foreign manufacturing.
My Affordability Agenda also includes working to get fuel and energy prices down, cutting day-to-day costs like prescription drug and childcare costs, helping cut through red tape and bureaucracy, and cutting taxes for hard-working families, including by reinstating State and Local Tax deduction.
Restoring the SALT deduction is critical because it will give an immediate tax cut to hard-working, middle class families in Jersey.
And just yesterday, the bipartisan Relief for Restaurants and other Hard Hit Small Businesses Act passed the House, which I voted for and cosponsored. It will claw back resources for small businesses that employ fewer than 200 people, suffered a 40 percent pandemic-related revenue loss, and did not previously receive certain grants, such as those from the Economic Industry Disaster program.
Many small businesses, including Korean American-owned businesses, restaurants, dry cleaners, salons, and real estate groups could be eligible for this relief.
Now, even as we recover from the pandemic, COVID had a very painful impact on many. I know that the rise of racially-charged attacks against the AAPI community — including right here in North Jersey and nearby in New York, where many of our residents travel for work and recreation, has many Korean Americans no longer feeling safe. I hear stories of residents having to carry pepper spray when they leave the house and fear letting their kids go out alone.
I hear from AAPI residents that this fear has become their new normal. Constantly thinking about if it’s safe to walk outside alone and making sure not to stand too close to the edge of the subway, fearing that they may be the next victim.
Across our country, murder rates spiked 27% in 2020. Violent crime is up, and homicides are at their highest level in nearly three decades. I will not stand idly by while our communities are under attack.
That’s why my door is always open and why my number one priority is to do everything I can to make life better for Fifth District residents.
With community safety as a goal for all of us, this is why I recently introduced new bipartisan and, now, bicameral legislation — the Invest to Protect Act — to make critical, targeted investments in our local law enforcement. This bill will help ensure police departments with 200 officers or fewer have the resources and training they need to keep themselves and their communities safe.
And as we’ve seen horrific hate crimes increase, I’ve been helping fight in Congress to send a clear message: hate has no home here. Last Congress, I was proud to support Congresswoman Grace Meng’s resolution condemning all forms of anti-Asian sentiment as related to COVID-19, and I look forward to proudly supporting her resolution again this Congress, as well as doing everything I can to stand up to all forms of hate and bigotry.
Before I open up our discussion, please pass this along to those who need help: I understand that English is not the first language for many in the community, which can make many of the long, government jargon-filled online processes difficult. So, please call my office or stop in anytime and we’ll make sure to walk you through anything you’re having trouble with. That’s why we’re here and why you hired me.
Overall, I have every faith — that, by working together, like we’re doing by coming together today — our best days will always be ahead of us.
Thank you for doing everything you do to stand up for your community and for making North Jersey an even better place to live.
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