Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka and seven other NJ Mayors from cities across the State held a press conference on Feb. 18 announcing a special collaboration in supporting New Jersey’s Black and Latinx residents with the expansion of  the Newark FAM Fund (Newark 40 Acres and a Mule Fund).

The City of Newark’s private investment vehicle which is raising $100 million to combat and reduce social and economic inequalities resulting from systemic racism, will expand due to growing interest as well as needed support for these businesses across the state.

The new initiative, the New Jersey “40 Acres and a Mule Fund” (NJ FAM Fund), will operate with collaboration from eight cities across New Jersey: Newark, Orange, East Orange, Paterson, Camden, Trenton, Irvington, and Atlantic City.

According to the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, the median net worth of New Jersey’s white families is $309,000, while the median for New Jersey’s Latinx and Black families is just $7,020 and $5,900, respectively—one of the worst racial wealth gaps in the nation. The objective of the NJ FAM fund is to close these gaps by providing Black and Latinx business owners with a more level playing field with their competitors.

“While the racial wealth gap is a national struggle, it is especially salient in Newark. Minority businesses have always faced more roadblocks than their counterparts and the pandemic has only worsened the issue. The NJ FAM Fund aims to help these businesses reach their full potential in these tumultuous times,” said Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “These investments will be a tremendous tool for the minority business community in Newark and we are incredibly grateful for this generous support.”

“The past year has been extremely difficult and put a spotlight on the racial wealth gap that exists in our country, but we cannot pretend that this problem is something new,” said Bernel Hall, Managing Partner of the New Jersey FAM Fund. “We look forward to expanding this initiative as partners come to the table. Through the Fund, our goal is to help Black and Latinx business owners and developers to expand their operations, create jobs and generate wealth for the communities that they serve.”

“When the difference in median net worth between White families and Black/Latinx families is nearly 200%, that is much more than a social disparity. That kind of gap is representative of the inequitable financial policies that have kept Black and Latinx businesses and families behind the national curve for decades,” said Mayor Ted R. Green of East Orange. “This initiative is how we start to bring balance to the communities that have been devastated the most. This is how we make amends and bring generational wealth into our communities.”

“We’re proud to stand with Mayor Baraka and other city leaders who understand that an equitable business environment is crucial to maintaining the diverse identity of our urban communities,” said Mayor Reed Gusciora of Trenton. “Despite decades of institutional and financial obstacles, many of our Black and Latino residents still put in the hard work to become entrepreneurs. We need programs like the one announced today to help make sure those historical challenges are not an impediment to their long-term success.”

“The NJ FAM Fund will help level the playing field for the Black and Latinx businesses not only in Camden but in urban areas across New Jersey,” said Camden Mayor Frank Moran. “The small business community has traditionally been the foundation of our local economy. As elected officials, it is our objective to identify resources which can not only help support but foster economic growth. Since the onset of the pandemic, so many of our Black and Latinx businesses have been impacted and are now facing dire circumstances. The NJ FAM Fund represents an outstanding collaborative effort to support these struggling businesses while shrinking the racial wealth gap.”

“There is strength in solidarity and I am honored to join forces with my conscientious colleagues to support this imperative initiative,” said Mayor Sayegh of Paterson. “We are Mayors meeting the moment and our Latinx and Black Businesses need our leadership now more than ever.”

“I’m honored to join Mayor Baraka and other Urban Mayors throughout The State for The FAM Fund. During these trying times this will assist African American & Latino Business as we restart and recover our Economy,” said Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr. “The Great City of Atlantic City looks forward as a participating municipality to support current business and bring new industries to diversify our economy.”

“Although it is reported that minority owned businesses represent the fastest growing business sector in the U.S. economy, Black and Latinx business owners continue to face significantly more obstacles starting their businesses and maintaining growth. Our country’s current economic crisis presents a significantly heightened challenge. Therefore, it made sense for us mayors of urban communities to work together to create the NJ FAM Fund in order to help the businesses that are the heart of our communities, Black and Latinx businesses,” said Mayor Tony Vauss of Irvington.

“On behalf of the City of Orange Township, I am excited to work with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka alongside other urban cities to help build up Black and Latino businesses. Determining how we invest our budget dollars in small businesses in our communities is one of the many initiatives underway as we move our State forward. This fam fund serves as a reminder of the work we need to continue to do to create equity in the business sector,” said Mayor Dwayne D. Warren of Orange.

The NJ FAM Fund is a first of its kind private investment vehicle focused on making equity and debt investments in Black and Latinx businesses located or doing business within the State of New Jersey and also transforming real estate projects within New Jersey’s Black and Latinx communities. Visit njfamfund.org for more information.

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