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The African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (AACCNJ) is urging the Murphy administration to support an immediate moratorium and on all non-emergency public procurement contracts up to $5 million effective immediately. 

The call comes in the wake of a state-commissioned study that recommended the state revise its contracting procedures after finding significant disparities in the number of contracts awarded to African American and other minority and women-owned businesses. 

The AACCNJ formed a task force to spearhead next steps with the Murphy administration after the study documented institutional discrimination to African American businesses. The study found that less than 1% of the $18.5 billion in state contracts awarded from 2015-2020 went to African American businesses in New Jersey, even though they comprise over 10% of all businesses willing and able to contact with the state, the AACCNJ said. 

“The moratorium will be a precursor to finding a remedy to the gross harm done to Black businesses in the state procurement process,” said John E. Harmon, Sr., IOM, Founder, President & CEO, AACCNJ.  

“We believe this can be done without legislative approval. Contracts are still being doled out as we wait for the next steps. It is business as usual; this step is necessary; and past practices may be accelerated in anticipation of new standards to level the playing field,” Harmon said. 

In a press statement on Monday, the AACCNJ said it was seeking support for the moratorium from the Murphy administration, Senate President Nicholas Scutari, Assembly Speaker, Craig J. Coughlin, and Legislative Black Caucus Chair Shavonda Sumter. 

“We anticipate more recommended best practices, to ensure a more equitable participation for Black businesses in public procurement as we go forward to codify definitive goals that incentivize inclusion and cement our mutual commitment to have a stronger and more equitable economy with the Murphy administration, and public stakeholders,” Harmon said. 

“We see the acceptance of this requested moratorium as a good faith effort to advance the state’s procurement efforts more equitably,” he said. 

The task force is co-chaired by Dr. Denise Anderson, founder of Denise Anderson and Associates, and Ferlanda Nixon, Esq., chief of Public Policy & External Affairs, AACCNJ.  

Task force members include John E. Harmon, Sr., President  CEO, AACCNJ; Gary Mann, Chairman of the Board, AACCNJ; Tammeisha Smith, Vice Chair of the Board, AACCNJ;  Stan Prater, Senior Advisor to AACCNJ President & CEO; Tanya Freeman, Esq, Chair of the Board, New York State Black Business Alliance (NYSBBA); Robert Johnson, Esq., Secretary, AACCNJ Board;  Marcus Dyer, CPA, Treasurer, AACCNJ Board; Robert Warrington, Esq., AACCNJ Board; and Monique Nelson, Executive Chair, UniWorld Group Inc.