The New Jersey Diverse Business Advisory Council (NJDBAC), a coalition of business groups that advocates for fair access to government contracts, said swift action is needed to correct the ongoing inequities documented Tuesday in the state’s disparity study.
The study, the first in two decades, examined five years of contract awards for construction, goods, and services and confirmed what the coalition said its members have long known: Minority, women, LGBTQ+, and veteran-owned businesses, as well as those business owners with disabilities, face significant obstacles in securing state contracts.
“While the study results are deeply concerning, they serve as a crucial wake-up call,” stated Indy Samra, co-chair of the New Jersey chapter 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.”
In addition to NJBIA, the NJDBAC also includes the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, New Jersey Pride Chamber of Commerce, New Jersey State Veterans Chamber of Commerce, The Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, The African American Chamber of Commerce, The New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners, Women Business Enterprise Center East, The Punjabi American Chamber of Commerce, 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.
The nonprofit organization called for action on several fronts:
- Improved Data Transparency. NJDBAC urged 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 urged Gov. Murphy to act before his term ends in 2026 to issue an executive order that establishes “concrete targets and actionable steps” to increase contract awards to diverse businesses. NJDBAC also urged the Legislature to prioritize and pass comprehensive legislation like New York’s, mandating a 30% allocation for minority, women, and disabled communities.
- Inclusion of other Diverse Communities. NJDBAC further urged the Murphy 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.
“The findings of the state disparity study highlight a persistent issue – the inequitable distribution of state contracts,” said Rajeev Krishna of the Asian Indian Chamber of Commerce (AICC). “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,” Krishna said. “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.”
Gus Penaranda, executive director of the New Jersey Pride Chamber of Commerce, noted the LGBTQ+ and veteran communities were not included in the disparity study released Tuesday.
“This means they are currently excluded from potential benefits arising from the study,” Penaranda said. “We urge the administration to address this gap by prioritizing the advancement of A-3330/S-1313, which would offer crucial protections for LGBTQ+ businesses, and by convening a comprehensive meeting with all diverse business organizations to chart a path forward.”
NJDBAC, led by Colonel Jeff Cantor, CEO and founder of the New Jersey State Veterans Chamber of Commerce, said he believes swift action is essential to ensure inclusive economic growth.
“New Jersey has the potential to be a shining example of equitable contracting practices,” Cantor said. “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. Go to the NJDBAC website or email Jeff Cantor for more information.