A Promise Not Kept: New Jersey’s Failure to Support Veteran Owned Businesses - Garden State Initiative

A Promise Not Kept: New Jersey’s Failure to Support Veteran Owned Businesses


A Promise Not Kept: New Jersey’s Failure to Support Veteran Owned Businesses

May 9, 2022


GSI, NJ Vets Chamber of Commerce report demonstrates failure of state to enforce set asides in procurement, offers policy changes to support veteran businesses

A new report from the Garden State Initiative and New Jersey State Veterans Chamber of Commerce uncovers that the State of New Jersey is failing to meet the requirements of a 2015 state law that sets aside a percentage of state procurement contracts for veteran owned businesses.

Since 2015, New Jersey has had a public law that sets aside 3% of its state contracting agencies’ budgets for Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses. However, according to research by the New Jersey State Veterans Chamber of Commerce, of the 72 state agencies that have procurement power, a mere few have awarded contracts to disabled-veteran-owned businesses, only two of 72 are enforcing the law and none are reporting their numbers as legally required.

“An independent study ranked New Jersey 49th out of 50 states for supporting veteran owned businesses,” stated GSI’s president Regina M. Egea. “This report shows there’s been a complete failure of state bureaucracy. We have a sacred obligation to support our veterans when they return home from military service and this report offers a path forward for our state to keep that commitment.”

“Veterans bring training, skills, and life experiences that uniquely position them to succeed in business – if given the opportunity and support in transitioning to civilian life. We need the state to do its part,” stated Col. Jeff Cantor (U.S. Army, Ret.), founder and CEO of the New Jersey State Veterans Chamber of Commerce, who co-authored the report.  With thousands of veteran-owned businesses in our state, nearly 1,000 of which are members of the state Veterans Chamber, those businesses will immediately benefit by the enforcement of existing law

In addition to highlighting the lack of enforcement of the law, the report offers a vision for New Jersey to improve its support of veteran owned businesses through a series of strategic initiatives. The report’s vision challenges our state government to ensure that New Jersey will join the top 25% of the best states for supporting veteran owned businesses as defined by the Small Business Administration and meet or exceed the requirements of its 3% state-mandated Disabled Veteran Owned Business law.

Among the strategic initiatives detailed in the report are:

1)   Support veteran business advocacy through the creation of an executive task force and legislative sub-committee.

 2)  Enforce or raise the 3% DVOB set-aside law.

 3)  Create legislation to better support veteran economic development.

 4)  Implement policy changes to better support veteran economic development.

 5)  Formalize the creation of a veteran economic development leadership team.

Throughout history, as people went off to war, they returned changed, often not for the better. When a service member takes off the uniform, they face life challenges that include financial insecurity, difficulty accessing capital, homelessness, medical and mental health issues and difficulty transitioning to civilian life.

One in every 20 New Jerseyans is a veteran and this population has answered the nation’s call. An important part of caring for our nation’s military veterans includes preparing and connecting them to careers after military service. A critical element is for the state to live up to its obligations, especially those that are enshrined in the law.

Col. Jeff Cantor discussed the report with GSI’s Regina Egea in the latest edition of The GSI Briefing podcast which you can listen to by clicking below.