NJ Diverse Business Advisory Council NJDBAC Testifies Before NJ Senate Economic Growth Committee Advocating For Legislative Action To Address Challenges Uncovered By The Disparity Study.


Published by Local Content Anchor Partner – New Jersey Workforce Technoforce and founding member of the NJ Diverse Business Advisory Council. (Audio File 44:34)

Good morning, Madam Chair Cruz-Perez, Madam Vice-Chair Turner, and esteemed members of the Committee, 

My name is Robin Berg Tabakin, and I am Public Policy Leader and past president of New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners and one of the founding members of the NJ Diverse Business Advisory Council.  I am also a small business owner and hold New Jersey WBE and SBE certifications. 

Mentorship and Capacity Building Training Programs

As my colleague Colonial Cantor testified earlier, there is a pressing need for a mentorship program between prime suppliers and small diverse businesses to enable them to become contract ready. To support small diverse businesses to scale up to become opportunity ready, we ask that the state create a training fund for a comprehensive capacity building training program. 

In order for small diverse businesses to participate in government contracts, whether as primes or subcontractors, they need a pathway to scale up. A comprehensive capacity development program coupledwith mentorship from prime vendors would provide such apathway. Capacity development encompasses accessingcapital, implementing best hiring practices, subcontracting by teaming with other small diverse businesses, identifyingbidding opportunities, and crafting competitive bids that incorporate a reasonable profit.  

A typical scenario involves a small diverse business withone or two contracts, wherein the owner manages the project and performs much of the work herself,subcontracting out the remainder. 

However, this approach turns the project into a “job” for the business owner, hindering business expansion. She works “in” the business rather than “on” the business. To foster growth, employees must be hired, necessitating access to capital for recruitment, understanding of hiring processes, including interviewing best practices and compliance with labor regulations, among other essentials.

Furthermore, small diverse businesses must learn bid writing, structuring pricing that encompasses payroll taxes, fringe benefits, and profitability, and leveraging subcontractors to handle specific contract aspects. These fundamental elements are essential for small diverse businesses to build capacity.

We ask for greater accessibility to municipal and county RFPs for contract awards funded with state dollars.Currently, only five counties have supplier diversity programs including Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Mercer, and Middlesex Counties. We ask that all contract awards issued by counties and municipalities that are funded with state dollars be tied to a diversity business goal. The state agency allocating these funds should receive credit towards its diversity goal for these contract dollars, and that agency should be responsible for monitoring the awards made by the recipient counties and municipalities.

There is a need for a central repository for all county and municipal bidding opportunities, especially those funded with state dollars. Business development is the key to growth. Small diverse businesses must find easy access to RFPs. Currently, small diverse businesses can either search for opportunities on individual county and municipal websites, or they may navigate several third party sites that are subscribed to by numerous counties and municipalities. This is a very inefficient way to find open RFPs. A central repository of all RFPs funded by state dollars would greatly reduce the burden on small diverse businesses that lack sufficient staff to spend time searching individual government websites or registering and searching third party sites. 

As a final note, the mentorship and capacity building programs as well as the request for diversity business goals for counties and municipalities awarding contracts that are funded by state dollars are contained in NJDBAC’s priority legislation points submitted by Colonial Cantor.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Submitted for the record. This 4th day of March, 2024

Robin Berg Tabakin, Esq., MBA

Public Policy Leader

New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners


(973) 727-1012

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