Two Area Business Owners Graduate from SBA Emerging Leaders Class

NEWARK, NJ – From a Fair Haven-owned IT/computer repair shop to a veteran-owned automotive repair and towing business in Toms River, 11 New Jersey small business owners graduated from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2019 Emerging Leaders program.

The seven-month-long course sponsored by the SBA and Interise requires small business owners to log in a combination of 100 hours of work and morning class time. Newark, where the training was conducted, is one of 60 cities across the country to host the SBA’s Emerging Leaders program.

“The results are in and our sixth Emerging Leaders class has been a huge success this year with a 100% graduation rate,” said SBA New Jersey District Director Al Titone, who delivered remarks at a recent graduation ceremony at the Rutgers University Business School in Newark, where the program took place. “We have had individuals come from all walks of life and parts of the state participate in this year’s program. Each participant’s commitment and desire to improve their businesses should be applauded. This particular program allows each small business owner to take a step back from their current business model and make the necessary adjustments in order to fast-track the growth of their company.”

According to SBA’s New Jersey Program Manager of Emerging Leaders Dominick Belfiore, participants had to have annual revenues of at least $250,000; have been in business for at least 3 years; and have at least one employee, other than self in order to participate in the program.

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The 11 graduates, who participated in the program, came from the following New Jersey communities: Bellville, Englewood, Fair Haven, Highland Lakes, Morristown, New Brunswick, Paramus, Parsippany, Ridgefield, Stirling, and Toms River.

Carla Fallone, the course instructor who led the class through the curricula set by the SBA said, “The SBA Emerging Leaders initiative, using the highly intensive and successful Interise Program, is the highest echelon of sustainable strategic business growth training available anywhere. Each year our cohorts include the top high growth CEO entrepreneurs in their field. This year our graduates have exceeded all expectations. They have devoted their time to designing and developing their own three-year Strategic Growth Plan, but have also found the time to mentoring their peers, sharing their experiences and brainstorming creative strategies with each other to enhance their triple bottom lines.”

Since its inception in 2008, Emerging Leaders has trained more than 5,000 small business owners, creating over 6,500 jobs, generating over $300 million in new financing, and securing over $3 billion in government contracts.

“It’s true that you don’t know what you don’t know when it comes to running your business. Being able to understand what happens behind the scenes is necessary to make good decisions. And while you may be a good technician, mechanic or salesperson, you may not know everything you need to know to run a good business,” said Tom Bull, owner of Two River Computer of Fair Haven that offers customers Information Technology services and computer repairs. “The Emerging Leaders Program sponsored by the SBA challenges you to look at your own business and at yourself as a business owner, to see what you need to know to be successful and to grow. I finally have a handle on my business and the 3-year Growth Action Plan that is a requirement of the program is my road-map to success.”

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“Emerging Leaders has a proven track record nationally of helping small businesses in underserved communities,” said Titone. “Over six years, we have graduated 93 students in New Jersey and maintain an outstanding 94% graduation rate. Over the last two years, we have also created a strong alumni association for our 93 graduates so that they may continue the dialogue and to mentor each other.”

“We believe that each graduate from the New Jersey initiative will see increased revenues, create more jobs and help drive local economic growth in their communities. Going forward, the goal is to provide even more entrepreneurs in underserved communities with the support, resources and skills to succeed,” said SBA Regional Administrator Steve Bulger, who oversees SBA programs and services for all of New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.”

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“I was honored and excited to hear I would be able to participate in the Emerging Leaders program. The executive level training partnered with mentoring from CEO’s operating in the real world went above what I anticipated,” said Rene Sales owner of First Choice Auto, a Toms River-based auto repair and towing company. “I’m very grateful to have been afforded the opportunity to attend.”

The co-sponsors of the 2019 New Jersey Emerging Leaders program were the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers at Rutgers University, the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development (CUEED) at Rutgers University, and the Greater Newark Enterprise Corporation (GNEC).

For additional information about the Emerging Leaders program, contact Dominick Belfiore of the SBA New Jersey district office at (973) 645-3683 or by emailing him at Additional information about the Emerging Leaders program may be obtained by visiting Small business owners wishing to apply for the upcoming 2020 Emerging Leaders class in New Jersey can apply online at

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