The U.S. Small Business Administration came to New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy to arrange loans to help businesses recover from storm damage.
Now the SBA is sending in its volunteer affiliate, Score, to follow up with counseling and mentoring.
Bob Kee has been a business counselor for Score for four years. He came to Cape May County this month from his home in St. Augustine, Fla., for the Sandy Project Mission.
Kee said he’s familiar with the area, having spent time in Sea Isle City, where his parents lived.
He said he owned his own company after working as a Xerox executive for 10 years and is retired. But, he was quick to point out, Score — previously known as the Service Corps of Retired Executives — now includes working men and women among its 12,000 volunteer members nationwide.
Kee said he’ll be counseling businesses in Cape May County for three weeks. Some other members will stay through the summer, with most groups of volunteers serving for limited periods until the project ends Sept. 30.
Score is offering business and technical assistance such as developing 11-point business plans, marketing plans, guidance on licenses and business issues, and mentoring that provides general assistance over a period of time, he said.
“The challenge is that this is the high season for businesses here, and they’re busy,” Kee said. “We have to be very cautious with their time. We’re trying to work with them.”
He hopes that when the heart of the season is over in September, business people can get some training.
Kee said Score can provide expertise from among its members in almost any business area, from restaurants to manufacturing, from exporting to importing.
“My expertise, over and above marketing and sales, is if someone wants to sell to the federal government,” he said. He used to specialize in that as a consultant in the Washington, D.C., area.
Business people interested in exploring possible help from Score volunteers may email Bob Kee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The SBA manager for the Score Sandy Project Mission is Andrew H. Beamon.
The drop in New Jersey’s unemployment rate from 9.3 percent in February to 8.7 percent in April prompted hope that stronger job growth might be starting in the state, if not the nation.
New data is not supporting that hope, especially in this region.
Seasonally adjusted figures from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia show unemployment remains stubbornly high in Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties.
The Atlantic County jobless rate in April stayed at 13.1 percent, the same as in March. In Cape May County, it edged up an insignificant 10th of a point to 7.5 percent in April.
Cumberland’s unemployment rate rose to 13.4 percent in April from 13.2 percent the month before.
A new report from payroll processing firm ADP and Moody’s Analytics provides an early look at state employment before government numbers are released, much as ADP’s national report precedes federal data each month by a couple of days.
ADP said this week that New Jersey continued to show weak employment growth in May, adding just 1,240 jobs. In April, the state added 3,300 jobs, according to the Department of Labor.
ADP said New Jersey lost 660 jobs in goods-producing businesses in May, while adding 1,900 service sector jobs.
A more upbeat outlook for New Jersey employment was released by the Philadelphia Fed this week.
The Fed economists analyzed fresh Bureau of Labor Statistics data and said “we expect unemployment rates in May to decrease from 8.7 percent to 8.6 percent in New Jersey.”
The state’s report on May employment will be released the third week of June.
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