Veterans Chamber summit: Here’s where you can support veteran-owned businesses

Chamber is bringing more than 150 to FDU event May 25 in Madison

All businesses talk about increasing their spend with veteran- and disabled veteran-owned businesses:  It’s a good talking point. The reality: Not enough businesses practice what they preach when it comes to their procurement spending.

The New Jersey State Veterans Chamber of Commerce is looking to change that.

From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 25 at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, the chamber will host the Disabled Veteran and Veteran Business Summit, which will bring together more than 150 veteran-owned businesses with government agencies and private companies that seek to procure with them.

Col. Jeff Cantor, the founder and CEO of the Veterans Chamber, said the summit will give employers and state agencies the opportunity to personally meet with veteran business owners and disabled veteran business owners to learn of their capabilities and to discuss partnering on upcoming projects.

“This event is crucial for the state’s veteran businesses,” he said. “Compared to their nonveteran-owned counterparts, veteran-owned businesses suffer from poorly developed networks of partners, and affiliates, as well as lack of access to sufficient capital for their business endeavors. This makes the challenges faced by VOBs and DVOBs comparable to those faced by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises and makes it difficult for them to fully participate in the free market system.

“On top of these disadvantages, VOBs have also been excluded from numerous past diversity goals worked into state and federal funding opportunities, including the 3% set-aside.”

Cantor said VOBs and DVOBs possess a wide range of skills, resources and capabilities, from skilled trades and construction crafts, to technical, technological and consultation specialties.

3% set-aside

New Jersey State Veterans Chamber of Commerce CEO Jeff Cantor said an important priority of the upcoming Disabled Veteran and Veteran Business Summit will be to facilitate state enforcement of its own 3% set-aside law for disabled veteran businesses by contracting state agencies. To date, this set-aside has not been rigorously enforced.

“This has left the noble goal of leveling the playing field for DVOBs an unfulfilled intention for the state,” Cantor said.

“In a tight labor and hiring market, participating companies and agencies will be delighted to learn about the diverse range of VOB and DVOB enterprises, and how they can fill their needs and help with their own projects and business development,” he said.

The summit will have booths set up, with DVOBs and VOBs prepared to meet up with a wide range of private companies, government agency leads and business associations to discuss prospects and opportunities.

The day’s schedule will include panels and various speakers, including elected officials and state representatives, who will discuss the state’s support of veteran businesses.

The event also will feature awards to veteran-owned businesses, as well as state agencies and organizations that have gone above and beyond in their support of veteran businesses, including:

  • Veteran Run Business Over $3 Million: Patriot Shotcrete;
  • Disabled Veteran Business Over $3 Million: NJF Worldwide;
  • Disabled Veteran Business Under $3 Million: The Mobile Cigar Lounge;
  • New Jersey State Agency Who Best Supports Veteran Businesses: New Jersey Economic Development Authority;
  • Collaborator of the Year Award: Luis De La Hoz, Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey.

For state agencies, vendors, companies with procurement diversity goals and anyone else interested in hiring, working with or meeting the VOBs and DVOBs on hand, click here to register and for additional information, including a full event schedule with a list of speakers and presenters.

If you are a VOB or DVOB looking for expanded opportunities, register here.