Bergen County Executive James J. Tedesco III, Bergen Community College President Eric M. Friedman, Ph.D., and the small business support specialists.
HACKENSACK, N.J. – During a July 26 event at the county seat, Bergen County Executive James J. Tedesco III announced new measures to provide additional support for small businesses in an effort to fight inflation and further strengthen the county’s economic position, while recognizing Bergen Community College students for their work in assisting local businesses as interns.
“In Bergen County, small business is the heart of both our economy and community,” Tedesco said. “My administration remains committed to doing everything in its power to help the backbone of our economy not only sustain their economic position, but also experience new growth so they can truly thrive in a 21st century economy.”
One measure will authorize $235,000 in funding so the College can continue an initiative that provides free consulting and real-time data services to small businesses as part of the Bergen Business Resource Network. The program offers business students real-world experience serving as the first point of contact for small businesses seeking assistance. Tasks include assisting business owners with a data tool, known as “SizeUp,” that breaks down how a business compares against their competition within a specific industry. Students also provide social media and web service support, while helping connect business owners with free consultants through Bergen Business Resource Network partners during consultations. To date, the program has assisted over 200 businesses.
“I’m grateful that our Bergen County government partners have embraced the opportunity to collaborate on economic development work,” College President Eric M. Friedman, Ph.D., said. “This program represents a living, breathing example of the importance of partnership between education and government for the betterment of community and the workforce. I’m especially proud of our students, who are using what they have learned to make a demonstrated impact in the communities we live, and to make a positive impact on our county’s businesses. The County’s continued support – both through advocacy and grant funds – have helped make the College an engine firing on all cylinders for economic development in Bergen County.”
The July 26 event featured a recognition of the student “small business support specialists” who have assisted local business owners as well. Friedman also credited the College’s Linda Caruso, manager of the business accelerator for entrepreneurs, for working with Bergen County Division of Economic Development Director Joanne Cimiluca to launch the program.
Before becoming small business support specialists, the students benefited from one-on-one training from business mentors facilitated by County government on essential skills such as communication. The students also earn a series of digital badges summarizing their skills that they can display on their resumes and professional social media.
The College’s involvement with the Bergen Resource Network represents one of the first major initiatives emerging from President Friedman’s economic recovery committee taskforce. The group, which began meeting shortly after Friedman took office in 2021, serves in an advisory capacity to him, creating and implementing strategies that position the institution as a catalyst for recovery from the pandemic.
Earlier this summer, the County unveiled its Bergen County Economic Resiliency Advisory Committee, bringing together industry leaders to identify options, alternatives, and recommendations to maintain the County’s position of economic strength and build upon it for sustainable growth. Friedman serves on the committee.
“The engine of our local economy are the more than 47,000 small businesses who call Bergen County home,” Commissioner Chair Tracy Zur said. “I applaud the County Executive for continuing to find ways to make Bergen County a great place to live, work, and raise a family.”
Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (www.bergen.edu), a public two-year coeducational college, enrolls more than 13,000 students at locations in Paramus, the Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst. The College offers associate degree, certificate and continuing education programs in a variety of fields. More students graduate from Bergen than any other community college in the state.
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