Newark Contributes $2M to Aid Minority-Owned Businesses

The NJ FAM Fund’s overall goal is to raise $100 million to reduce socioeconomic disparities in minority communities.

It says it has received “funding commitments” from Bank of America, AT&T, Panasonic, RWJ Barnabas Health, and celebrities like basketball great Shaquille O’Neal and the Rev. Al Sharpton. The dollar amounts contributed have not been disclosed.

While the mayors of Atlantic City, Camden, East Orange, Irvington, Orange, Paterson and Trenton signed on as co-sponsors in 2021, it is unknown if those cities also made financial contributions to the fund.

Also unknown is how much money the NJ FAM Fund has on hand. Since it’s private, it is not required to publicly disclose its income or disbursements.

The fund promotes itself as “the nation’s first equitable investment program” designed to reverse “one of the worst racial wealth gaps in the nation” here in the Garden State.

The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice says that gap is evident, pointing to the median household income for “white families” in New Jersey being $322,000, while Latinx and Black families have median annual incomes of $17,700 and $26,100, respectively.

The NJ FAM Fund’s goal is to close that gap by giving grants, loans and credit to Black and Hispanic business owners and startup entrepreneurs in urban communities with large minority populations.

Its money can be used to create more jobs; provide affordable housing, rehabilitate commercial or residential properties; build or rehab community facilities; provide vital services, or help struggling minority retailers embark on new businesses.

“While the racial wealth gap is a major national issue, it especially impacts Newark,” said Baraka. “Black and Latinx businesses always face more roadblocks than their counterparts.”

The FAM Fund recently became partners with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), one of the nation’s largest community development finance institutions.

LISC, based routinely co-invests in project alongside a network of community-based funding partners, which now includes the NJ FAM Fund.

The fund’s first Newark project, announced in August, is to subside a private developer’s plan to build nine new two-family homes, and rehab an existing house on city-owned property in the Central Ward. Four of the finished homes will be sold to lower-income people or families, the rest will sell at market rate.

That project is funded in partnership with the United Community Corp. and the New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC), one of the state’s largest community development finance institutions.

The NJ FAM Fund’s managing partner, Bernel Hall – also NJCC’s president and CEO – says similar projects will soon be on the horizon for Newark and elsewhere.

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published this page in News and Politics 2022-10-18 04:05:21 -0700