Singleton-Ruiz Bills to Support the Development of Minority, Women-Owned & Rural Businesses Clears Committee

Trenton – Legislation sponsored by Senators Troy Singleton and M. Teresa Ruiz aimed at supporting the development and growth of minority, women-owned, and rural businesses in New Jersey cleared the Senate Economic Growth Committee today.

“As we rebuild the state’s economy following the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we must ensure that the recovery is inclusive of minority and women-owned, and rural businesses,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “These groups have largely been ignored, left behind, or have been left out of economic prosperity in the past. For these reasons, we need to put policies in place that give these businesses a fighting chance to compete and thrive.”

“For far too long, state and federal programs have left behind minority-owned businesses, contributing to the wealth gap we see today,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “As we work towards achieving equity in our society, it is important we think critically about the opportunities we are affording our small business owners and entrepreneurs. By analyzing the backgrounds of those who are awarded state contracts, we can ensure we are investing in businesses that fully represent the diversity of our communities.”

The first bill, S-2768, would authorize the State Chief Diversity Officer to conduct a disparity study on the participation of minority and women-owned businesses in the procurement of goods and services for the New Jersey state government. The bill was released from committee by a vote of 5-0.

The second bill, S-2769, would establish the “Minority Business Development Program” within the Economic Development Authority (EDA) and appropriate $50 million in federal funds to the EDA for the new initiative. The program would provide grant funding and technical assistance services to foster the development of minority businesses in New Jersey. The bill was released from committee by a vote of 5-0.

The third bill, S-2770, would establish the position of Minority Depository Institution Coordinator in the EDA. The coordinator would collaborate with the EDA Board of Directors and the Chief Diversity Officer to identify and reduce administrative barriers to the participation of minority-owned businesses in any EDA loan program. The bill was released from committee by a vote of 4-1.

The fourth bill, S-2771, would establish the “Rural Business Development Program” in the EDA to provide grant funding to develop rural businesses, as well as appropriate $35 million to EDA from federal funds to help fund the program. The bill was released from committee by a vote of 5-0.

The last bill, S-2772, would establish the “Biannual Small Business Matchmaker Initiative” in the Department of State. The initiative would serve as a networking opportunity to connect small businesses with representatives of federal, state and local government agencies on potential contract opportunities. The bill was released from committee by a vote of 5-0.