ROI Influencers: People of Color 2020 (No. 1 — John Harmon)

John Harmon
African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey

He has Gov. Phil Murphy’s ear.

Trust us when we say he is one of the people Murphy turns to when he needs to know what’s going on in the Black business community.

He has become a go-to person for business leaders, too.

Trust us when we say his phone was buzzing at the start of the protests over racial justice and social equity, as many leaders scrambled to figure out what to do.

But know this about John Harmon, the CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey: He does not suffer fools.

Trust us when we say he’s going to be straightforward. He’s going to tell you things you need to know, but may not want to hear. And he’s going to follow up in clear tones if you don’t do what you say you’re going to do.

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Harmon is all business. Especially when it comes to things that Black business owners need to grow and prosper. He has been since he founded the AACCNJ in 2007. So, bring your “A” game. You’ll be glad you did.

It’s for all of these reasons that Harmon is the ideal selection as the No. 1 honoree in ROI-NJ’s People of Color Influencers list for 2020. In many ways, however, it’s a lifetime achievement award.

For more than a decade, the AACCNJ has been dedicated to economically empowering and sustaining African American communities and businesses through entrepreneurship and capitalistic initiatives throughout the state for more than a decade.

Harmon says he feels African American consumers and businesses are often overlooked or marginalized, so the chamber serves as a mechanism for communication, program creation and strategic implementation of resolutions that address economic disparities.

That’s why Harmon has been out front on the issue of equitable opportunity — everything from employment to vendor contracts — all summer. He’s eager for action. And eager for help.

Harmon said he’s thrilled to see there has been a recent acknowledgement of the issues that have held down Black businesses. He said he’s happy there have been financial contributions and statements of support, too.

But Harmon really wants to know if you’ll be there tomorrow — and if you really are ready to make a difference?

“That’s it, that’s the whole thing,” he said. “This is a daily thing that we have to be focused on. It’s not just for an emotional period. Black issues in this state exist 365 days a year.”

That’s the essence of Harmon. He’s ready to talk and he’s ready to strategize. More than anything, he’s ready for action.

Top of the list
A look at the previous ROI Influencers: People of Color lists’ No. 1 selections:

2019: Gurbir Grewal, attorney general of New Jersey
2018: Ras Baraka, mayor of Newark