Category Archives: Business Spotlight

ASA Medical Billing Services, LLC- Union City, New Jersey

Angela Gonzalez’s aspirational journey began at 19 years old when she relocated from Puerto Rico to embark on the promising opportunities Hudson County has to offer. “What drew me to Hudson County was how easy it was to be a part of a diverse community. It is such a big melting pot where everyone is willing to help each other. There are people from all different backgrounds, young, old, and willing to mentor,” Angela shared. She quickly realized Hudson County was the destination to live, learn, and work to achieve her professional goals.

Angela started temping at numerous companies and agencies, looking to find her niche until the role of working in medical billing, as she describes, “fell into her lap.” She developed a valuable medical coding skill set, working her way up to a manager position. Along the way, she built meaningful relationships with the trust and support of physician colleagues and staff, allowing her to apply her expertise to open the doors of her business ASA Medical Billing Services, LLC, in Jersey City.

ASA Medical Billing Service has positioned itself as an important small business in the medical administration ecosystem within Hudson County. The service offers a seamless healthcare approach to physicians and patients through reimbursement methodology. During the pandemic, Angela saw an opportunity to strengthen her business and her skill set to be responsive to the evolving landscape.

The Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (SHCCNJ) Latina Entrepreneurship Training Series (LETS) proved an important step in Angela’s professional development. “The SHCCNJ, in partnership with the Hudson County Economic Development Corporation (HCEDC), has allowed us to support women-owned businesses of the Hispanic community. Latina-owned small businesses are the state-economic drivers contributing to over two million Hispanic-owned businesses in the nation, which have seen over 87% growth in recent years,” stated Carlos A. Medina, President, SHCCNJ.

Angela has remained steadfast in her ability to learn and develop as a business owner amidst challenging times. “HCEDC helps people understand their business during changing times. Businesses need to recognize potential barriers and risks by developing a plan of intentionality that focuses on preparedness for relevant issues,” explained Michelle Richardson, Executive Director, HCEDC. Michelle continued, “Meaningful partnerships formed with national and local nonprofits and state agencies allow us to address and assist small businesses navigating the constantly changing landscape with designated programs such as our Climate Change Business Resiliency series.”

With the assistance of local economic development nonprofits, Angela has been empowered to redefine her business goals, learn new trends in marketing, and plan for potential risks. Angela reflects on future endeavors by sharing, “ASA Medical Billing Services will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in December, and as a way to give back to the community, I established three years ago the Medical Office Technologies Institute (MOTI) program to train students preparing to graduate high school in the healthcare coding professional industry to prepare the next generation of Hudson County residents for the future.”

Medical Billing & Coding students on their completion day of the certification course

Explore: ASA Medical Billing Services  
Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey

Download the November 2022 Business Spotlight at: ASA Medical Billing Services, LLC

Double Batch Bakery – Bayonne, New Jersey

When Rachel and Angel Hidalgo found out they were expecting twins they moved from Manhattan to Hudson County in 2009 to be closer to family and are now not only proud parents, but successful business owners.

“We always dreamed of opening a bakery of our own. Hudson County’s incredible diversity and network of resources turned out to be the perfect place. Our success here would not have been possible without the help of Djenaba Johnson-Jones, the owner of Hudson Kitchen, a food and beverage incubator in Kearny, Cheryl and Christopher Mack, the owners of Bridge Art Gallery, and the introductions made to organizations, including the Hudson County Economic Development Corporation (HCEDC),” shared Rachel.

“I established Hudson Kitchen in 2015 with the help of HCEDC and their lending partner UCEDC. My goal to build an inclusive and vibrant community of like-minded industry entrepreneurs continues to be realized through introductions and networking with businesses like Double Batch Bakery that are enriching our industry through their professional experiences and unique cultural approaches to food,” Djenaba Johnson-Jones shared.

Double Batch is bringing their unique cultures literally to the table. “I am Filipino and Indian, my husband is Puerto Rican and Ecuadorian. Bayonne’s rich diversity has allowed us to incorporate these cultures into our food. Our customers love to learn about the variety of pastry we create and thanks to them we’re now exploring and integrating new recipes and ingredients for diverse holidays and occasions. Like Hudson County, we’re constantly changing and introducing fresh flavors and experiences to the community,” said Rachel.

“The HCEDC’s vision to create a vibrant ecosystem for our business community and partners takes shape with Double Batch Bakery and their success in Hudson County.  Our work with Hudson Kitchen has helped lay the groundwork for the growth of the region’s culinary renaissance and we are incredibly proud of that fact.  We actively promote and encourage business-to-business networking and relationships.  In Bayonne, the business community is very tightly knit, and they help each other, not only by doing business with each other but also by sharing information and resources. Local businesses like Bridge Art Gallery owner, Cheryl Mack operated as an adept networker and connecter.  Cheryl and her husband, Christopher, regularly invited the HCEDC to their gallery events to meet with businesses at their gallery and facilitated introductions,” shared Michelle Richardson, Executive Director, HCEDC.

“Hudson County is a multi-dimensional experience with arts and culture, small businesses and community-based organizations partnering together, HCEDC is a phenomenal resource helping to connect them all,” shared Cheryl Mack, Bridge Art Gallery. “Our vision was to create a welcoming space that would serve as a community hub to foster a strong and resilient community. The primary resource for Bayonne is the people and Double Batch Bakery is a great example of this; they make their goods with love and we make every effort to work with them. Over the past few years, we’ve come to realize that collaboration is key to our collective success through the pandemic and beyond.”

Double Batch Bakery’s success is why so many small businesses continue to choose Hudson County. Community organizations with a focus on business-to-business alliances in combination with flourishing diversity and vibrant, unique neighborhoods help make the dream of starting a business achievable. Hudson County’s collaborative economy is helping to pave the way for a bright future for entrepreneurs and a thriving local ecosystem.

Double Batch Bakery; famous for their signature Croissamada, a hybrid pastry, part croissant and part ensaymada (Filipino sweet bread made topped with butter, sugar, and cheese).

Discover Double Batch Bakery located in Bayonne  

Download the July 2022 Business Spotlight at: Double Batch Bakery

Explore:
Hudson Kitchen 
Bridge Art Gallery

BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT ARCHIVE

Fit 4 A Better Me, LLC.

When Brenda Green, a certified, professional NASM-CPT, Precision Nutrition Coach, and Strength Specialist, founded Fit 4 A Better Me in 2016, she embarked on an entrepreneurial journey that was both a personal mission and a community-building revolution. Today, this woman-owned and operated virtual fitness and health studio continues to empower, transform and inspire a diverse and dynamic group of women.

“I started my business to create a space for women to take care of their overall health. As women, we predominantly take the role of caregiver and put our care on hold. My journey as a cancer survivor reinforced the importance of health and wellness, as I was blessed to recover quicker than anticipated. However, my aunt, who helped care for me while I was ill, and unbeknownst to me, ignored her own health issues to her detriment. Unfortunately, this happens all too often. Her death helped propel me forward in my drive to help other women to be healthier, fit, and a better version of themselves inside and out.”

When Brenda moved Fit 4 A Better Me to Hudson County, she immediately saw a benefit to her business. “I’ve traveled around the country and lived in many places, but nothing stuck like Hudson County did. When my husband and I made the move to Secaucus, I dedicated myself to taking my business to the next level by participating in all the great programs available to me.”  Brenda’s business journey started with an introduction to her future coach, Reina Valenzuela, of the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (SHCCNJ), at a free business training class in Paterson. Reina helped facilitate her participation in various networking events and programs. Shortly after, Brenda was enrolled in the SHCCNJs Hispanic Entrepreneurship Training Program (HETP), where she was able to connect with other small business owners and learned how to not only strengthen her business model, but was also able to take advantage of other opportunities.

After completing the HETP program, Brenda entered a pitch competition hosted by Latinas in Business and was awarded a scholarship for Rutgers Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development/ Entrepreneurship Pioneers Initiative (CUEED/EPI) training program. When asked about her experience, Brenda reflected, “I had not realized the true value of Rutgers EPI program until meeting my mentors and coaches.” She continued, “with the guidance of Jasmine Cordero as my program manager, I was able to grow and plan for challenges. What is most inspiring is knowing that there is so much support for entrepreneurs to realize goals and take businesses to the next level. The experience is really “Familia,” working together, supporting and helping each other out.”
Over the past 14 years, we’ve helped over 600 entrepreneurs in New Jersey to build their brands, accelerate strategic alliances, and focus their finances,” says Lyneir Richardson, Executive Director of CUEED.  “Small businesses strengthen communities, and we’re proud to contribute to their growth and success.”

“The Hudson County Economic Development Corporation’s ongoing commitment to supporting growth and accelerating entrepreneurship is core to our mission. We’re proud to provide funding to the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Entrepreneurship Training Program along with the Rutgers Business School Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development Entrepreneurship as we continue to open doors throughout the County. Through the alignment of our partnerships, Hudson County’s business community had access to the training and skill set development necessary to prepare for, survive and thrive through the Covid-19 pandemic.” Michelle Richardson, Executive Director, Hudson County Economic Development Corporation.

“Being an entrepreneur anywhere takes grit, strength, and a willingness to learn. Here in Hudson County, I’ve found a welcoming and supportive community that keeps pushing forward to provide the right environment to help us grow. Working together and knowing that other people are on the same journey is an invaluable and inspiring experience. I’m often asked for words of advice for other entrepreneurs, and I always say, never give up and ask for help; there are so many programs through local organizations and Chambers. Get involved!”

Getting involved and making a difference in the lives of others takes many forms at Fit 4 A Better Me. For over 6 years, every December Brenda participates in the Kids Blessing Bag Project by helping to organize donations of essential items, clothing, and gifts to various local shelters. Always exploring ways to connect with more organizations focused on women’s health, Brenda is looking forward to expanding her community and discovering new doors opening for business owners and entrepreneurs.

Free 10-Week Summer Fitness Program held at Harmon Cove, Secaucus, NJ.

Download the May 2022 Business Spotlight at: Fit 4 a Better Me

BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT ARCHIVE

Reynaldo Diaz, GID LLC.

Reynaldo Diaz immigrated from El Salvador to Guttenberg in the 1980s, where he received citizenship in the 1990s.  Today, he and his wife Suzanne Zikas are proud North Bergen residents who both work in fashion and the importing and exporting of textiles.

“We just love the diversity and small-town feeling here.  Coming from Latin America to a community comprised mostly of immigrants looking for a better life creates an ideal environment for entrepreneurs of all kinds.  Hudson County’s location can’t be beaten, it is just so accessible.  For our business, easy access to New York City and international shipping hubs is essential.” Reynaldo and Suzanne both agree there is nothing like the support and sense of unity they’ve experienced.

“Through COVID, I was unable to receive shipments and travel to meet clients and do business.  As a global company with a local footprint, this posed huge challenges for me.  Receiving the SBA loan from the UCEDC kept my business going while I worked from home while also allowing me to support all my local businesses.  The financial assistance I received at a local level is what quality of life is all about and is a unique feature of this amazing County,” shares Reynaldo.

Michelle Richardson, Executive Director, Hudson County Economic Development Corporation (HCEDC) shared, “We set out in 2017 to partner with a diverse group of lenders with the financial resources that align with HCEDC’s mission to assist our small business community.  We’re proud to have created a network for referrals through our affiliated partners to allow small businesses to access customized solutions for their unique needs.”

“The HCEDC and UCEDC are mission-driven to help small businesses succeed.  Our priorities aligned during the pandemic, and we were able to be even more responsive and accessible to local businesses.  This was a huge benefit to small businesses as the HCEDC was on the ground and in constant communication with partners and businesses to provide the best resources and options available.  Together, we built a powerful partnership and a seamless process for small business owners.” Adam Farrah, President, UCEDC.

Reynaldo reflects on being an entrepreneur in Hudson County.  “If you are looking to open a small business, but do not know where to start or how to financially open doors, look into resources in your area.  Fill out as many applications for loans as you can because organizations like HCEDC and UCEDC will be there to make it happen and offer advice.”

BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT ARCHIVE

Chic Diva Spa

Every year, immigrants and entrepreneurs are choosing Hudson County as their home thanks to our diversity and accessibility to pursue their hopes and dreams. “Our mission at Hudson County Economic Development Corporation is to help them realize their goals by connecting them with the training, education, information and access to capital through our powerful network of partners,” said Michelle Richardson, Executive Director. Chic Diva Spa is one of the many stories which illustrate how it all comes together.

“The support we received from organizations such as UCEDC, The Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, and others was critical to our success here.” Shared Ana Centeno, owner of Chic Diva Spa with partner Blanca Dole, “As immigrants from Honduras, we immediately felt welcomed in Hudson County and were provided with all the resources we needed to start our lives here.”

One of the first connections Ana made was with Reina Valenzuela of the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (SHCCNJ). Reina immediately went to work to assist Ana and Blanca by enrolling them into SHCCNJ’s HETP program; providing business coaching, renewal of business licenses, certifications, applying for loans, and necessary strategies to grow their business. Through the affiliated partnerships among the SHCCNJ and HCEDC, Ana was introduced to the UCEDC to provide them access to the capital the businesses needed through the pandemic.

“Our continuous goal is to promote community economic development. We provide our clients with access to entrepreneurial capital, and related business development services such as loans, loan packaging, government procurement assistance, training in English & Spanish, and technical mentoring services to offer small businesses solutions to challenging obstacles,” said Adam Farrah, President of UCEDC.

Chic Diva Spa, a Holistic Center operating in North Bergen since 2015, continues to be a valued service for the community, a place where clients become family and have the opportunity to recharge. When asked about what advice they have for other small business owners in Hudson County, Ana says without hesitation, “Education! Educate yourself about the resources available at a state, county, and community level. Take classes and training courses– most of them are free! It may be hard running a business all day, however, understanding how to do things properly for your business will only drive it to greater success.”

BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT ARCHIVE

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.

BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT ARCHIVE

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.

 

BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT ARCHIVE