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Statement from Assemblyman Benjie E. Wimberly: Addressing Disparities in Government Contracts

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are not only moral guidelines but also essential components for fostering economic growth and social mobility. The statistical significance regarding disparities in government contracts recently released in a study commissioned by the state is alarming.

As outlined in the report by Mason Tillman Associates, the large disparity gaps in the distribution of NJ government contracts by race, ethnicity, and gender, is evidence of the urgent need for proactive measures to address diversity, equity, and inclusion in business opportunities. The data presented in the report urges us to focus our efforts on defending the need for opportunities in our state.

As the report informs, Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and Caucasian females consistently represent the lowest threshold of bid opportunities for prime construction contracts, professional services and goods compared to nonminority counterparts. The report estimated a loss of more than $813 million. It is not unreasonable to suspect that more was lost due to low balling and other bias for minority businesses.

These systemic barriers deserve our immediate attention. As an elected representative, it is my intent to introduce and support policies that aim to balance allocation of state contracts and opportunities. I will strongly advocate for the development and implementation of policies that mandate equity throughout the State procurement processes. Together, we will advocate for a state where economic opportunities and prosperity is accessible to all.