Report: New Jersey failing to adhere to law to grant state contracts to disabled veterans
A new report states the government agencies in New Jersey are falling short when it comes to awarding state contracts to firms owned by disabled veterans.
Veterans say they just want to be included, especially after having served their country. But disabled veterans who own businesses say they're getting left behind and losing out on millions of dollars, even though a law was put in place in 2015.
“Three percent of all state contracts are supposed to be set aside for disabled veteran-owned businesses,” says Col. Jeff Cantor, CEO of Lima Charlie Construction.
Cantor is also the founder of the New Jersey Veterans Chamber of Commerce. The organization recently released a report that calls out the state’s shortcomings in awarding state contracts to disabled veterans.
“The state has not been doing its fair share of enforcing the law that hundreds of millions of dollars that was supposed to be set aside for disabled veteran businesses has not been awarded to veteran-owned businesses,” says Cantor.
He says this doesn't just affect his own heavy civil construction business, but thousands of businesses in varying industries like marketing engineering and IT. He says competing against legacy or established businesses has proved to be an uphill battle.
“They know all the right people, they have all the connections, they have the networks, they have good cash flow and access to capital,” says Cantor.
He says the goal of the report isn’t to just call out the government, but to help the state improve inclusion when it comes to state procurement. He says they've brought their concerns directly to Gov. Phil Murphy.
“We don't need inactivity anymore, we need somebody to be kinetic, pick up the ball and run with it and really help veterans,” says Cantor.
The report lays out five points on how the state can better serve veteran-owned businesses: advocacy and a task force, enforcing the 3%, legislation, policy changes and the creation of an economic development leadership team.