Posted on December 9, 2022 by Hunter Hulbert – Community
The Mosaic Empowerment Program helps minority-owned businesses by presenting grant recipients with a marketing/advertising program valued at $25,000 — completely free and with no strings attached. Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Within New Jersey’s diverse tapestry of more than 850,000 small businesses, business owners work hard to promote their products/services, get their voices heard and stand out from competitors. This process can be especially challenging for minority-owned businesses, which often lack the funds, support and/or access to the resources necessary to market themselves effectively. And that’s exactly what NJ Advance Media’s Mosaic Empowerment Program provides.
“Minority-owned businesses often experience great difficulties due to a lack of resources and access to loans and opportunities,” said Michele Hayes, vice president of marketing at Iselin-based NJ Advance Media. “Our Mosaic Program is an effort to help relieve some of the burden on their marketing budgets as well as offer guidance on developing strategic marketing plans.”
Launched in spring 2022, the Mosaic Empowerment Program helps minority-owned businesses by presenting grant recipients with a marketing/advertising program valued at $25,000 — completely free and with no strings attached. “Eligibility requirements include being in business for at least three years, having gross annual revenues of at least $100,000 and being certified as a minority-owned business with the state,” Hayes explained. Recipients are selected through an application process and are assigned a dedicated sales account executive to manage their program from beginning to end.
Business owners can promote their products/services, get their voices heard and stand out from competitors through NJ Advance Media’s network of platforms. Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Maya Curry, vice president of Communications and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the Newark Regional Business Partnership (NRBP), a longstanding organization committed to the success of its members and the revitalization of Newark, agreed that minority-owned businesses often have more of their share of obstacles to overcome.
“Diverse business owners face a range of challenges, both in starting and sustaining their businesses, particularly when it comes to financing,” said Curry, whose organization was instrumental in helping to launch the Mosaic Program. “These business owners may not have the resources or time to devote to marketing, which is especially essential in the startup phases of their business. The Mosaic Program provides marketing resources for the diverse business owners selected without them having to divert critical financial resources from their day-to-day operations.”
For the NRBP, partnering with the Mosaic Program was a perfect fit.
“The NRBP is a resource for our members and the business community at large and we’re committed to encouraging and supporting diverse, equitable and inclusive business practices, so the Mosaic Program truly aligned with our organization’s goals and values,” Curry said, adding that the NRBP provided initial consultation to NJ Advance Media as it was developing the program, helped promote the program to NRBP members and remains available as a resource to program participants. Ultimately, she confirmed, “The NRBP is proud to support any endeavor that will open doors and help level the playing field for diverse business owners, and we’re excited to continue working with the Mosaic Program.”
According to Hayes, “There are currently 10 businesses participating in the Mosaic Program based in Essex and Mercer counties, and they represent a variety of industries, including health care, architecture, real estate, consulting, beauty, fitness and trucking. Our team has consulted with the business owners to provide insights on their market and offer recommendations for enhancing websites, expanding staffing efforts and boosting promotional activities.”
Following, five business owners participating in the Mosaic Program share how the initiative is helping them to move the needle:
Kym Williams, president of Kelly’s Janitorial Service Inc. in Ewing. Photo courtesy of Kym Williams
Kelly’s Janitorial Service Inc. (Ewing) — Founded in 1962 by her father, “We offer custodial cleaning, floor care, window washing and grounds maintenance services to private, corporate and government facilities,” said President Kym Williams. Staffed by a team of highly trained employees who have been with the company for many years, “We take pride in offering professional and unmatched customer service.” As a participant in the Mosaic Program, Williams is working with NJ Advance Media to create a print and digital campaign as well as a landing page to fill a gap after her company’s website was unexpectedly disabled following a hosting platform upgrade last summer. Beyond Mosaic support, Williams is also working with NJ Advance Media to build a new website. “Having NJ Advance Media help us replace our website has been a blessing and perfect timing,” she said. “We’re excited about the Mosaic Program because it offers us an opportunity to get professional print and digital advertisements, which we hadn’t utilized in the past, and to determine if a media visual presence can draw new business.”
Andy Vieira, owner of TruckTech Parts & Service in Newark. Photo courtesy of Andy Vieira
TruckTech Parts & Service (Newark) — Providing everything from hydraulic and collision repair to mechanical services, over-the-counter parts and more since 2008, TruckTech owner Andy Vieira has faced his share of difficulties along the way. “Working with the local government can be a challenge for someone who’s unfamiliar with the process,” he said. However, “NJ Advance Media is putting together marketing ads and editorial for TruckTech that we feel will help promote our brand, and the professional touch added by NJ Advance Media’s marketing team, writers and digital specialists will help us best articulate our goods and services to our potential customer base.” Added Vieira, “The Mosaic Program gives small companies, like TruckTech, the ability to market like a pro and opens the door for us to have a marketing presence in platforms we can’t normally afford and hadn’t attempted in the past. Our hope is that we can achieve measurable results that can be duplicated over time.”
Shelly Bryant, broker/owner of SBR Realty LLC in Ewing. Photo courtesy of Shelly Bryant
SBR Realty LLC (Ewing) — Launched in 2008, “SBR Realty LLC is a full-service real estate agency licensed in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, which sells both residential and commercial real estate to both first-time and move-up buyers, investors and entrepreneurs,” said broker/owner Shelly Bryant, who acknowledged that minority-owned businesses, like hers, often struggle with a lack of capital, difficulty attracting quality employees and limited access to support services. “However, NJ Advance Media has undertaken direct digital marketing/promotional activities to bring more awareness to our company, and, thus far, a few of our agents have been highlighted and there will be some marketing for additional agents,” Bryant said. “I’m excited about the Mosaic Program and very hopeful that the program’s efforts will help us grow by attracting new clients and employees and positioning us to best serve our community.”
Widchard Jilus, founder and CEO of LivFit Fitness Personal Training & Wellness Studio in Newark. Photo courtesy of Widchard Jilus
LivFit Fitness Personal Training & Wellness Studio (Newark) — According to founder and CEO Widchard Jilus, “We offer personal training with an emphasis on functional exercises that mimic our clients’ daily movements.” Since launching his 1,500-square-foot studio in September 2020, the 20-year fitness industry veteran has faced bias, difficulties attracting employees and hurdles leasing his space, but he’s excited for the promise the Mosaic Program holds to help fill in the gaps. In addition to running ads to help recruit top-quality trainers, his marketing campaign involves prominent ads and sponsor content articles on such platforms as The Star-Ledger, NJ.com and Jersey’s Best magazine. “The Mosaic Program was just what LivFit Fitness needed at exactly the right time,” Jilus said. “In addition to the challenges of opening a business during the pandemic, many people within Newark and Essex county are still unaware of the services we offer, and my hope is that the Mosaic Program will help us to increase brand awareness, reach a broader audience and continue to grow.”
Obi Agudosi, president/CEO of OCA Architects in Newark. Photo courtesy of Obiora Agudosi
OCA Architects Inc. (Newark) — Established in 2015 by president/CEO Obi Agudosi to open doors for minorities in a field that historically lacks diverse representation, OCA has since grown to become a leading minority-owned architectural firm in New Jersey focused on housing authorities, public and private educational institutions, mixed-use residential developments, and health care, utility and airport facilities. According to Agudosi, a 30-plus-year professional and former president of the New Jersey State Board of Architects, major challenges faced by professional service firms, like his, include the extensive paperwork required to register, maintain operations and compete for solicitations in state projects as well as limited access to larger opportunities. However, “It’s my hope that the Mosaic Program will offer OCA exposure to potential clients through our inclusion in prominent editorial opportunities,” he said. “Our collaboration with NJ Advance Media is off to a great start and will offer OCA assistance in formulating our marketing strategy, creating greater digital brand awareness through advertising and introducing OCA to a broader marketplace of prospective clients to support our growth.” Overall, Agudosi said, “NJ Advance Media’s focus on minority-owned firms through the Mosaic Program is a step in the right direction that helps highlight issues faced by minority-owned firms.”
NJ Advance Media’s Hayes concluded, “We’d love to continue to grow the Mosaic Program and build a sustaining platform through which we can help define and support success for minority-owned businesses — all part of empowering and strengthening the communities we serve.”
For more information or to apply for a grant from NJ Advance Media’s Mosaic Empowerment Program, visit njadvancemedia.com/mosaic.
A longtime NJ Advance Media/The Star-Ledger contributor, Susan Bloom is an award-winning New Jersey-based writer who covers topics ranging from health and lifestyle to business, food and more.
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2022 issue of Jersey’s Best. Subscribe here for in-depth access to everything that makes the Garden State great.
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