NJ small-business news roundup - NJBIZ

If you haven’t had your morning cup of joe yet, you may want to try one of two Garden State coffee shops that recently made the list 30 Best Coffee Shops in the Northeast by RAVE Reviews.

Jessica Durrie, Small World Coffee co-owner, second from left, is pictured with the team, including head trainier Tuc Sargentini, far right, who has been with the coffee shop since 1994. – SMALL WORLD COFFEE

Small World Coffee in Princeton and Empire Coffee & Tea Co. in Hoboken were java-fan favorites, according to the independent, reader-supported website.

Located at 14 Witherspoon St. in downtown Princeton (the location chosen for the list), Small World Coffee features lime green interior and exterior walls and minimalist décor and offers blends sourced from around the world with catchy names such as Grumpy Monkey, Joker Poker and Rocket Blend, RAVE noted. The coffee shop also serves a limited breakfast and lunch menu. Musicians entertain patrons on Saturday nights.

“We opened back in 1993 after driving all around this country looking for the perfect college town to open our coffee business,” Small World co-owner Jessica Durrie said in an email.

“Princeton was the town! This was during a time when the specialty coffee industry was beginning to grow outside California and the West Coast.”

Durrie said Small World has its own kitchen — which she called a “flavor apothecary” because the baristas can come up with creative offerings — as well as its own coffee roasting facility.

Located at 338 Bloomfield St. in downtown Hoboken, Empire Coffee & Tea Co. reminded the RAVE editors of “the silent movie era.” “From the vintage font on the sign reading ‘Empire Coffee & Tea Company’ to the large gunny sacks of coffee beans lining the wall, the ambiance in this coffeehouse is unforgettable.”

Empire Coffee & Tea Co. owner Abbe Rivers described the shop as a “hybrid” establishment because it is an espresso bar with a “daunting drink menu and a gourmet retail shop with over 50 varieties of beans to choose from.” – EMPIRE COFFEE & TEA CO.

According to Empire’s website, “As the stores and restaurants in Hoboken … get newer, brighter, shinier, and slicker, Empire Coffee and Tea Co. gets tastier and more relaxed.”

“We’ve been rockstars here in Hoboken for over 27 years,” Empire owner Abbe Rivers said in an email, adding that it was an honor to be included on the list. “We’re a hopping neighborhood shop with locals and tourists alike.”

In East Orange, an innovative duo in the cannabis space caught the attention of San Francisco-headquartered Eaze, the nation’s largest cannabis delivery company.

CBD delivery company Roll Up Life Inc. owners Tiyahnn Bryant and Precious Osagie-Erese won a no-strings-attached $50,000 grant from Eaze through its 2022 Momentum business accelerator program.

East Orange-based CBD delivery company Roll Up Life Inc. owners Tiyahnn Bryant and Precious Osagie-Erese won a no-strings-attached $50,000 grant from Eaze through its 2022 Momentum business accelerator program. – ROLL UP LIFE INC.

Roll Up Life is one of 10 companies nationwide picked for the annual Momentum program. Momentum participants receive a $50,000 grant; a 12-week business development program led by industry experts; and support from Eaze’s business, marketing, legal and PR resources.

Momentum has provided a total of $1 million in grant funding to date across the 20 companies that have already passed through the program. Momentum was recognized by Fast Company as a 2021 World Changing Idea.

Osagie-Erese said she and Bryant plan to use part of the funding to further develop their cannabis delivery technology.

Eaze surprised winners with the announcement at an event in Los Angeles on March 8 that brought together founders with investors including Arcadian Capital Management, Ultranative and CGI Asset Fund; and with sponsors including Dagga, Garden Society, Leune, Cann, Country, Vertosa, Confia, MGO CPA and Everyday.

Osagie-Erese said Roll Up Life went to Los Angeles under the guise of doing a final interview, and that they were taken by complete surprise when told they’d be part of Momentum’s third cohort.

“It’s surreal, we’re extremely grateful and now we’re just ready to work!” Osagie-Erese said.


Several small businesses in downtown Newark have yet to fully rebound from the pandemic, so says New Jersey Community Capital, a nonprofit community development financial institution that supports underserved communities.

Therefore, a $300,000 grant from Prudential Financial will go a long way.

The grant is designed to help small businesses grow, create job opportunities and sustain an inclusive local economy, NJCC said in the March 9 announcement.

The organization said the grant will provide up to $250,000 to cover the six-month interest-only period for loans to small business and nonprofit borrowers under the NJCC’s Garden State Relief Fund. The grant also provides up to $50,000 for technical assistance from Greater Newark Enterprises Corp., which offers small businesses expert advice and resources to grow their business. The GSRF provides low-interest loans between $10,000 and $75,000 to small businesses and nonprofits with up to 75 full-time employees.

“So many major contributors have come together to support the incredible small business community in Newark,” Bernel Hall, president and CEO of NJCC, said in a statement. “Anchor organizations like Prudential Financial and others are deploying strategies to reach small businesses. NJCC is excited to play an important role in driving economic opportunity in New Jersey’s largest city alongside Prudential Financial — a steadfast investor and supporter of our work for nearly 20 years and $35 million in impact investments.”

NJCC said there are more than 200 Newark small businesses, 60% of which are minority- or women-owned, that support over 1,300 jobs.

Cross River Bank in Fort Lee and the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey in Lyndhurst have partnered on the Chamber’s Hispanic Entrepreneurship Training Program, which aims to promote access to capital, opportunities, and new markets to Hispanic business owners.

As part of the partnership, Cross River will provide financial assistance to SHCCNJ to help launch and enhance the chamber’s entrepreneurial programs to provide small business owners with financial, educational and technical assistance.

This partnership is part of the bank’s Making Waves with Cross River campaign, which is dedicated to diverse small businesses and entrepreneurs serving their communities and creating jobs. A number of initiatives fall within the campaign, including grant programs, fellowships, events, and small business support.

“The Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey is a leading advocate providing resources to small businesses who are often neglected,” said Phil Goldfeder, senior vice president of global public affairs at Cross River. “The SHCCNJ is the voice of thousands of Hispanic businesses that contribute to the New Jersey economy, and the partnership with Cross River will provide further support, fortifying a better community for all.”

The New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology opened applications for the newly created Catalyst Research & Development Voucher Pilot Program and round 2 of the state’s Clean Tech R&D Voucher Program.

The programs aim to connect early-stage New Jersey technology companies with access to laboratory facilities and specialized equipment statewide. The initiatives were developed in partnership with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.

Both programs are designed to help startups around the state accelerate development that can lead to transforming research discoveries to commercially viable products and services. Eligible applicants can receive vouchers to defray the costs associated with such development.

“New Jersey’s universities and colleges are uniquely positioned to assist and support entrepreneurs that are developing innovative technologies,” said CSIT Executive Director Judith Sheft. “By harnessing the resources of these world-class higher education institutions and other facilities statewide, the programs announced today will help accelerate the growth of New Jersey startups and strengthen our innovation ecosystem as we continue to reclaim our status as a leader in innovation.”

About $275,000 will be provided through the Catalyst R&D Voucher Program. The funds can be used to meet costs for eligible services, as well as to hire technicians for testing and development. A startup can apply for multiple vouchers, capped at $25,000, within any 12-month period.

Applications will be accepted beginning May 2 and continue until funding from both programs is allocated.

CSIT will also provide vouchers totaling up to $375,000 to eligible startups within the clean technology sector in the second Clean Tech R&D Voucher round.

Funding for that program is being provided by NJBPU.

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