With the goal of promoting a more entrepreneurial environment in the South Jersey region, Rowan University, Rutgers University and area business and industry leaders have formed the Entrepreneurial Forum of Southern New Jersey, Inc. This not-for-profit organization will work to foster the development of entrepreneurial ideas and ventures, as well as strive to improve the success rate of emerging, growth-oriented companies.
The Forum will focus on meeting the needs of entrepreneurs, businesses and educational institutions throughout the South Jersey region and primarily will serve Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Ocean and Salem counties.
According to Dr. K. Mark Weaver, Forum coordinator and Rohrer Chair of Entrepreneurial Studies at Rowan University, Glassboro, N.J., “South Jersey is a dynamic region, but historically it has not had an emerging growth, entrepreneurially based economy. Because of that, there never has been an adequate support infrastructure to nurture and develop such companies. The Entrepreneurial Forum aims to change that.”
Frank Keith, executive director of Rutgers Camden Technology Campus, Inc., Camden, N.J., agrees, “The Forum will provide the expertise and opportunities needed to encourage local entrepreneurs and businesses to pursue their ideas. Ultimately, we believe our group will promote business growth that will mean more jobs and revenues for the region.”
Among the plans of the Forum are to leverage the collective resources of Rowan and Rutgers universities, top business leaders, professionals and government officials to improve the flow of ideas, services and funding to entrepreneurs and to help connect emerging businesses with resources needed for growth. The group will provide seminars, events, resources and networking opportunities to the entrepreneurial community, colleges and universities and secondary schools throughout South Jersey. The Forum expects businesses under five years old and with revenues under $50 million to find these resources especially beneficial.
The Forum will be administered by a board of directors, which includes entrepreneurs, businesses leaders, education representatives, government officials and economic development professionals, assisted by representatives from the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Rowan University and the entrepreneurial program at Rutgers University. The Forum also has an advisory board composed of representatives from area service providers, financial institutions, private equity sources and businesses interested in working with entrepreneurs and emerging companies.