Assemblyman Brian Bergen (R-Denville) released a statement this morning criticizing New Jersey’s state agencies for failing to award the legally required number of state contracts to veteran-owned businesses, citing a recently released report on state interactions with veteran entrepreneurs.
“New Jersey state agencies are mandated to do business with veterans turned entrepreneurs, but they have not lived up to their so-called commitment,” said Bergen, a former helicopter pilot in the Iraq War. “It is completely unacceptable and I’m calling on state leaders to join me in making consequential changes. For the past seven years, veteran-owned businesses have lost out on millions because of empty promises and failed policies.”
The report, which was commissioned by the NJ State Veterans Chamber of Commerce and the conservative-leaning Garden State Initiative, said that New Jersey “has demonstrably lagged other [states] in its commitment to 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 (DVOBs),” the report says. “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.”
Bergen said in his statement today that he intends to collaborate with legislative leadership to make New Jersey more welcoming to veterans, who are around 5% of the state’s population.
“I am also calling on [Assembly] Speaker Craig Coughlin to work with Senate President Nick Scutari to establish a joint legislative subcommittee to foster economic development for veteran-owned businesses,” Bergen said. “I want to make New Jersey the best state for veterans to start a business after they complete their service to our country.”