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How to Get a Small Business at Fort Monmouth

Fort redevelopers promise to bring in big employers to the fort. Here's who you need to call if you want your small business to be in on the action.

When Goldman Sachs set up its new headquarters in Battery Park City in 2009, it brought with it 8,000 employees who needed an eye doctor, a dry cleaner and someone to make them a cheeseburger, fries and a shake combo. To keep its employees humming the financial giant created a small town of sorts, surrounding its 43-story building with a mix of retail and service businesses.

And since Goldman is in the business of banking and not sandwiches, it fostered the growth of those small businesses by providing the real estate and the customers.

In Monmouth County the people behind the transformation of Fort Monmouth from military installation into live/work/play community are banking on a similar phenomenon, albeit on a much smaller scale, officials say.

Bruce Steadman, executive director of the , told Patch that small business at the fort "is going to thrive based on the larger anchors."

Steadman said, "Our job is to provide an atmosphere for larger jobs and larger companies, and the small businesses will feed off that growth."

As an example he points to , the data protection firm currently based in Oceanport. The company has plans to move its headquarters to the Tinton Falls section of Fort Monmouth where FMERA has said it will build a new facility to house its 500 Oceanport employees. FMERA officials refused to comment on the time line of this project.

According to Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno at a , the company has plans to add 700 jobs initially and 2,000 to 2,500 new high tech jobs in the future.

CommVault representatives declined to comment for this story pending the transfer of the property, which is imminent.

"There will be a natural growth and progression from there," Steadman said about CommVault. "When they are built out with 2,000 employees, there will be a need for a bank, small restaurants, sub shops, dry cleaners..."

When the Army pulled out of the fort in dribs and drabs over the last few years it took with it a variety of jobs from secretarial to research and development jobs. But it also took customers from the . Those are the indirect job and business losses that are more difficult to quantify and the last to be replaced in the redevelopment of the fort.

Even if FMERA says its job is to hook the big corporations, its leaders say they are making small businesses a priority.

"I have started a couple of businesses in my career, and I understand better than some the regulations that come into play starting a business," James V. Gorman told Patch. Gorman, who was in the insurance business before he retired, is now the FMERA board president. "Small businesses don't have lawyers or accountants on staff."

To that end FMERA has appointed a member of its staff to, as Gorman said, be a "local expert to help small business open or relocate and navigate the myriad processes we have in New Jersey... for free."

Katie Hodes, who worked as a cabinet liaison under two governors before joining FMERA, has been named its small business facilitator.

"I'm hoping to be responsive and help as many small business folks as possible," Hodes told Patch. Hodes will work in conjunction with the state's Business Action Center. Both the Business Action Center and FMERA are governed by the state's Economic Development Authority (EDA).

"Small business is the core focus of what we do," said Erin Gold, spokesperson for the EDA. "That gets lost when you hear about Panasonic and Prudential."

Because it is difficult for small businesses to get funding, EDA offers a line of credit guarantee.

"We partner with banks and make them more comfortable," Gold said.

Anyone interested in bringing a small business to Fort Monmouth should contact Katie Hodes at the FMERA office, 732-720-6342.

Ken Barber August 30, 2012 at 02:23 PM
In the case of Golden Sachs, the president was right: They didn't build the business themselves.

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