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Dedicated effort: Jersey City is making it easier for small business
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Dedicated effort: Jersey City is making it easier for small business

NJ BIZ    By Joshua Burd,    May 4, 2015 at 3:00 AM

Restaurateur David Massoni has been dealing with big city building departments for more than five years — that means he has known the feeling of “if you couldn't figure it out on your own, tough luck.”

That’s not what he found when he and his partners came to Jersey City.

“Things went really smoothly,” said Massoni, who recently opened Talde Jersey City and Carrino Provisions on Erie Street. He added: “And what we’ve seen over here is that, for the most part, if you had a question or were running into any roadblocks, if the person you were talking to didn’t have the answer, they were finding it out for you or pointing you in the right direction.”

Jersey City officials say it’s not a case of getting lucky, but the result of a dedicated effort to streamline the permitting process for small businesses. The project has taken place over nearly two years — starting after Mayor Steven Fulop took office in July 2013 — leading to everything from expanded office hours at the building department to giving inspectors handheld tablets in the field.

Such changes have helped more than 150 small businesses open during that time, according to certificate of occupancy figures provided by the city. Fulop said those merchants account for a major piece of the 9,000 jobs Jersey City has added over the past two years.

“We want to set a tone that is inviting to small businesses to be investing in Jersey City,” Fulop said. “We really do view them as being the backbone and the most significant job creator.”

Fulop said it’s important when major companies relocate there from New York City, bringing hundreds or thousands of jobs, but that often doesn’t mean new employment growth in the region. But for small businesses, whether it’s a few workers at a shop or the 130 people employed at Massoni’s two restaurants, those jobs add up.

“If you’re thinking about the absolute low end and the high end there, you’re talking about thousands of new jobs that are being created,” Fulop said. “And these aren’t just transferred geographically — these are actually brand new jobs, often going to Jersey City residents. So it’s a great emphasis.”

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Posted on: 2015/5/6 12:31
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