Category Archives: Business Spotlight

Brand Intelligence


Resilience is commonly associated with Hudson County and its diverse community of residents and businesses. Mary Olson’s branding and marketing firm, Brand Intelligence, exemplifies this quality and brings a unique perspective, vision, and skill set to the region.

Mary’s journey to  Hudson County began over 25 years ago when she was forced to leave her downtown New York City office due to the devastating attacks of 9/11. Mary continued her entrepreneurial drive by embarking on new business opportunities Jersey City offered. She immersed herself in the diverse community, networking, educating, and evolving her business into a branding advisory firm. Reflecting on Hudson County as a whole, she shared, “When I moved to Hudson County, I immediately felt welcomed by the business community and was impressed by the resources available to me to be able to rebuild my business. The cultural diversity and energy here continue to inspire me.”

The onset of the COVID-19 crisis posed extraordinary challenges for small business owners like Mary, who lost 80% of business revenue. Through the referral from Michelle Richardson, Executive Director of the Hudson County Economic Development Corporation (HCEDC), Mary connected with the New Jersey Small Business Development Center at New Jersey City University (NJSBDC at NJCU) and was provided with funding options to keep her business secure.

“The COVID-19 crisis presented unforeseen challenges to our business community. Our response to provide access to information, available funding, and resources was critical to the ongoing health and growth of the Hudson County economy.” Richardson stated. She facilitated the relationship between Mary and Karen McIntyre, Community Outreach & Employer Engagement at NJCU’s SBDC. “The New Jersey Small Business Development Centers’ network is committed to guiding established small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs to create and expand their business enterprises which will, in turn, result in sustainable growth, job creation and statewide economic development and prosperity.”

When asked about the importance of community relationships, Mary emphasized, “HCEDC, NJSBDC at NJCU, and Jersey City Economic Development Corporation reopened the doors for my business. HCEDC, with the leadership of Michelle Richardson, provides extraordinary knowledge and research into every resource available for small business owners like myself.” She continued, “These organizations focus on supporting entrepreneurs with the financial backing and personable reassurance to know someone is there thinking about you.” HCEDC is committed to supporting small business owners to continue to grow their business in Hudson County and advance economic development on a local level.

Have questions about resources available for your business? Click here.

PAZ Music Academy

Established in 1985, Paz Music Academy of Kearny, a unique multi-generational business continues to transform Hudson County’s families and special needs communities through the teaching of appreciation, theory and technique. Today, Yanina and Roberto Paz further a family tradition and love of music which began with Roberto’s father in Spain.

Roberto reflected on the means of transforming his family’s dream into a successful business by stating, “The American Dream is to come to America to start a business, plant seeds, and develop roots to give to the next generation. We’re living proof of that hard work. When my father immigrated to Newark in 1969, he taught music from the basement of a local Church. “Now, as parents to 3 children, we are proud to be 2nd generation owners, and we are continuing to thrive thanks to Hudson County’s focus on diversity and support of small businesses.”

Hudson County Economic Development Corporation focuses on diversity and support of local businesses by offering programs and opportunities through partnerships to shape and continue to grow Hudson County. Through word-of-mouth, Yanina discovered the HETP/LETS (Hispanic Entrepreneurship Training Program/Latina Entrepreneurship Training Series) sponsored by The Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey.

Carlos A Medina, ESQ. President/CEO of SHCCNJ, emphasizes the impact of the organization, “The Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is a not-for-profit organization that has been the voice of 120,000 Hispanic-owned businesses that contribute over $20 billion to the state’s economy. We’re proud to be serving this vibrant and vital community, and to promote the continued growth and development of Hispanic entrepreneurs, such as the PAZ learning center.”

Yanina emphasized the importance of community outreach and business training by stating, “These programs speak directly to the needs of small business owners and have been essential to our business’ health. Everything I learned significantly accelerated our capacities as new owners as Roberto and I assumed those responsibilities only 3 years ago. The personalized attention I received from my coaches Tatiana Orozco, from Torozco Digital, and Susana Fonticoba, from Clear Path Strategy, empowered me with not only the knowledge I needed to be a better business owner but the understanding and practice of how to organize back-end operations. The program offered tools and marketing tactics to grow our current client base while re-engaging existing students to build our community and brand loyalty. Throughout the process, I greatly benefited from connecting with other local business owners to share successes, get advice and ask questions.”

“The Hudson County Economic Development Corporation in partnership with the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is a cornerstone of our approach to ensure that we are advancing our mission to ‘Open Doors’ for all businesses and organizations in Hudson County. Education, training, information and access to capital in concert with affordable housing are services we are proud to help provide to fuel growth in our diverse and underserved communities.” Michelle Richardson, Executive Director, HCEDC.

According to Yanina Paz the future looks very bright as Paz Music Academy continues to evolve. “The pandemic and training we’ve received opened doors to reinvent and adapt our business. We’ve seen a 400% increase in enrollment since the HETP/LETS training program and it’s wonderful knowing that I can continue to rely on their support and expertise as we grow and find new ways to serve the community. Small businesses like ours are making such a difference here, we’re hiring more teachers and expanding our hours of operation. Everyone benefits when we work together.”

The Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has opened their applications for the 2022 Hispanic Entrepreneurship Training Program. If you think your business could be a fit from this program, we encourage you to apply. The application link can be found here.