NJ Diverse Business Advisory Council Responds to NJ Disparity Study: Calls for Swift Action to Address Unfair Contract Allocation



Newark, NJ (January 22, 2024) – The NJ Diverse Business Advisory Council (NJDBAC) welcomes the completion of New Jersey’s first disparity study in two decades but expresses urgent concern about the ongoing inequities it reveals. The study, which examined five years of contract awards for construction, goods, and services, confirms what many of our members have long known: that minority, women, LGBTQ+, and veteran-owned businesses, as well as those with disabilities, face significant obstacles in securing state contracts.

“While the study results are deeply concerning, they serve as a crucial wake-up call,” states Indy Samra, Co-Chair of the Punjabi Chamber of Commerce. “For too long, the allocation of state contracts has been unfair and inefficient, hindering diverse businesses and stifling New Jersey’s economic potential. The Punjabi Chamber has been a vocal advocate for change, and we are committed to working alongside Governor Murphy and stakeholders to implement concrete solutions.”

NJDBAC, comprising prominent business organizations like the NJ Chamber of Commerce, NJ Pride Chamber of Commerce, NJ State Veterans Chamber of Commerce, The Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, The African American Chamber of Commerce, The NJ Association of Women Business Owners, Women Business Enterprise Center East, The Punjabi American Chamber of Commerce, The NJ Business and Industry Association, The NY/NJ Minority Supplier Development Council, The Eastern Minority Supplier Development Council, the Asian Indian Chamber of Commerce, and the Asian American and Pacific Islander Business Association of Montclair calls for swift and decisive action on several fronts:

• Improved data transparency: NJDBAC urges the state to ensure all data related to contracting opportunities and awards is easily accessible and readily interpreted by diverse businesses.

• Targeted outreach programs: Dedicated programs are needed to inform and equip diverse businesses with the resources and training necessary to navigate the state’s contracting process.

• Time-bound Executive Order and Legislation: NJDBAC urges Governor Murphy to act swiftly before the end of his term. We call for the immediate issuance of an executive order establishing concrete targets and actionable steps to increase contracts awarded to diverse businesses. Simultaneously, we urge the Legislature to prioritize and pass comprehensive legislation similar to New York’s, mandating a 30% allocation for minority, women, and disabled communities. New Jersey must catch up to its progressive neighbors, and the time to act is now. Delay risks squandering this crucial opportunity to build a more equitable future for all Garden State businesses.

• Inclusion of other diverse communities: NJDBAC further urges the administration to acknowledge the specific challenges faced by LGBTQ+, veteran-owned, disabled-owned, and military spouse owned businesses by including them in future studies and implementing tailored support programs.

Rajeev Krishna of the Asian Indian Chamber of Commerce (AICC) adds: “The findings of the state disparity study highlight a persistent issue – the inequitable distribution of state contracts. With increased transparency and awareness of available contracts, the AICC can utilize targeted outreach programs to build awareness within its membership of these opportunities. By collaborating with key stakeholders, the Chamber envisions a New Jersey where opportunities flourish for all communities. AICC has taken a proactive stance since 2022, ensuring its members have the proper Diverse and/or Woman Owned Business Certification to avail these business opportunities.”

“While we understand that the LGBTQ+ and veteran communities were not substantially included in the disparity study, we know that all diverse business organizations will benefit from the study and we look forward to working with our partners to see this through” said Gus Penaranda, Executive Director of the NJ Pride Chamber of Commerce. “We urge our elected officials to follow on Governor Murphy’s Executive Order No. 295 and prioritize the advancement of A3330/S1313 to codify a state-backed certification program for LGBTQ+-owned business enterprises which would offer crucial protections; and we look forward to joining a comprehensive meeting with all diverse business organizations to chart a path forward.”

NJDBAC, led by Colonel Jeff Cantor, CEO and Founder of the NJ State Veterans Chamber of Commerce, believes that swift action is essential to ensure inclusive economic growth. “New Jersey has the potential to be a shining example of equitable contracting practices,” says Cantor. “We urge Governor Murphy and all stakeholders to seize this opportunity to build a thriving economy where opportunities abound for all communities, including those facing the most significant barriers to entry.”

About the NJ Diverse Business Advisory Council (NJDBAC):

The NJ Diverse Business Advisory Council (NJDBAC) is a coalition of leading New Jersey business organizations dedicated to promoting the inclusion and advancement of diverse businesses in the state’s economy. NJDBAC members advocate for fair and equitable access to government contracts, resources, and opportunities for minority, women, LGBTQ+, veteran-owned businesses, and those with disabilities. For more information, please visit our website at https://diversechambers.com.

Please contact the NJDBAC at jeff@njveteranschamber.com


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