The New Jersey Business Action Center, a no-cost, confidential resource is hosting a six-part interactive virtual learning series designed to provide businesses, mainly small businesses and non-profits with information to support recovery from disruptions caused by COVID-19.

The series runs April 20 through May 13. Registration is free at www.nj.gov/state/bac. Businesses can sign up for just one webinar or all six.

The purpose of these webinars is to connect business owners to the resources available through the state, said Donald Newman, NJBAC's manager of the Office of Small Business Advocacy. The series brings business owners and resource providers together to talk about what's accessible through the state government.

One topic is about financial resources. Newman said some of those resources are COVID related but there are other resources that have been available to businesses all along that they may not have been aware of until now.

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Another is on technical assistance. That's mentoring and counseling services that may be helpful to a business that's trying to cope with changes in the market.

He said there will be another series on government procurement. The largest purchaser of goods and services in the world is the U.S. government. So there's a potential there for small businesses to get government contracts to expand their business.

There will also be a webinar with The Department of Labor. Newman said they will talk about workplace standards that people are adhering to because of the pandemic. They will also talk about workforce training and other resources that are available through The Department of Labor.

A special webinar is dedicated for nonprofits and their unique needs. Newman said his favorite webinar is on lesser-known resources. Business owners may allow those kinds of resources to slip through their fingers and just lay on the table, freeing them up for their competition, he said.

One example is the library. Newman said the library system in New Jersey has a lot of resources for small businesses that most people don't know about.

Businesses have to adjust to the changing environment, he said. Managing the change in a customer's behavior is important. For example, many people like placing e-commerce orders. Newman said brick and mortar stores need to have e-commerce as part of their business model, allowing customers to do that, even if it's just curbside pickup.

He said businesses need to find ways to draw customers or add e-commerce to the mix to maintain sales and increase customer relationships. "Revolve or die. It can happen if stores don't recognize the changes," said Newman.

Besides the series, Newman said the NJBAC has done a lot to help small businesses. He said they've been working with Gov. Murphy's Innovative Team, The New Jersey Economic Development Authority and the state Treasury Department to come up with a new business website that gives the basics of doing business.

Newman said one of the cool features at www.business.nj.gov is the live chat feature. It gives people another touch point for accessing state government. Representatives from the Treasury Department and the NJEDA can be looped in as well. There is someone live to take your call 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.

Since March 1, 2020, when the pandemic began, Newman said the NJBAC has responded to 65,000 questions on the site.

Newman said most of the services talked about in the six-part series are "taxpayer supported." He said these services have already been paid for with taxpayer dollars and services that competitors would be more than happy to take advantage of, if possible.

"Consider these services as something you already paid for, the meal you already paid for. Don't let somebody else eat your lunch," said Newman.

Schedule for the series include:

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