New Jersey is the latest state to incorporate an entrepreneurial training program for its unemployed. The program, called Entrepreneurial University or ETPU, will provide free training in starting a business and fund up to $10,000 in loans to get started.
Intersect Fund, a non-profit group that supports entrepreneurs, is leading the effort. Sponsored by the State of New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the fund will offer 60-hour training programs for those who are currently unemployed but wish to start their own business. The program, which benefits those who have been collecting unemployment benefits for 26 weeks or are no longer eligible, is offered at several locations around the state, including some community colleges. Once the program is completed, the entrepreneurs can borrow up to $10,000 in order to start their business.
“The program's goal is to give participants the tools they need to start profitable businesses. That means knowing where to find one's customer, knowing how to manage the money and knowing how to plan for growth," said Joe Shure, associate director of the Intersect Fund.
For New Jersey, whose unemployment rate of 9.1 percent is still above the national average, the program could mean an economic turnaround. “The way we see it, the more people who know how to start a business, the better. This type of training results in more businesses, more jobs and a better economy," said Shure.
New Jersey isn't the first state to head such a program. Washington state has a Self-Employment Assistance Program or SEAP, through which those collecting unemployment benefits can receive self-employment training and business counseling. Colorado recently extended its job training program for another two years, which trains the unemployed to fill high-demand positions and to run their own business.
As of July 1, the Entrepreneurial Training Program for the Unemployed in New Jersey has been suspended by the Department of Labor.