The state of New Jersey recently moved to create LGBTQ+-own company certification program.
Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order May 3 instructing the New Jersey Department of the Treasury to establish an initiative for LGBTQ+-owned business enterprises. Companies that are certified would have expanded access to public and private contracting opportunities and enable businesses to proudly identify as LGBTQ+-owned in their advertising.
“Enabling the certification of businesses as LGBTQ+-owned will encourage the success of these enterprises by enhancing their visibility, providing them with an extra layer of authenticity in their business ventures, and demonstrating that they are welcome and vital participants in our economy,” said Murphy in a press statement. “I am honored to support the endeavors of entrepreneurs from a historically underrepresented community through the creation of this certification program.”
Under the program to be established by Treasury per Executive Order No. 295, businesses that are majority-owned and operated by one or more individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ can become certified for free as an LGBTQ+-owned business. Certification provides state-backed documentation of a business’ status, which can be beneficial in pursuing contracting opportunities at the local, state, and federal level, as well as in the private sector.
The new certification designation follows in the footsteps of those in place for small businesses and businesses owned by minorities, women, veterans, and disabled veterans.
“From day one, Treasury has been committed to opening doors for all businesses to grow and thrive. In 2021, as businesses faced unique challenges amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Treasury waived certification fees for small, minority, women and veteran-owned businesses,” said Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio. “By expanding this benefit to help LGBTQ+ -owned businesses, we can help more enterprises successfully launch and gain a foothold in their respective industries.”
The state will establish rules and regulations to effectuate the order and work to ensure the procedures used to certify LGBTQ+-owned businesses are on equal footing with the procedures used to certify other types of businesses.
Treasury will also be authorized to enter into reciprocal agreements with, or accept certifications by, other public and private certifying entities whose standards are similar to the ones developed by the department.
Support from Business Community
Gay business groups trumped the program as a building on Murphy’s previous statements that social progress cannot be achieved without economic progress.
“New Jersey continues its tradition as a leader in LGBT rights by living up to its promise and creating greater access to the American Dream,” said National LGBT Chamber of Commerce Co-Founder & President Justin Nelson. “This victory for inclusivity has once again proved our core values that ‘diversity is good for business’ and that ‘if you can buy it, a certified LGBT-owned business can supply it.”
New Jersey Pride Chamber of Commerce President Stephen Blazejewski noted LGBT entrepreneurs are statistically likely to encounter a number of socioeconomic hurdles when starting their own business.
“One of the most rewarding things about owning a small business is having the opportunity to create an openly inclusive space for my employees and customers alike,” said Carolyn Gadbois, owner of Union Coffee in Lambertville. “I feel so proud that Union Coffee has become known as a haven for the LGBTQ+ community, and I believe Gov. Murphy’s executive order will help open even more doors on our collective path toward visibility and equality.”