New law will increase access to government contract for disabled veteran-owned businesses

In a move that could dramatically help disabled veteran-owned business get work from government contracts, Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday signed bill S2249/A4211, which lowers the number of disabled veterans’ businesses required to bid on a set-aside contract from three to two.

The “Set-Aside Act for Disabled Veterans’ Businesses” had established a goal for contracting agencies to set aside at least 3% of their contracts for disabled veterans’ businesses, but the act required that at least three disabled veterans’ businesses be reasonably likely to bid for a contract for the set-aside to apply to the contract.

The reduction puts the state in line with many other national standards.

The change is important, according to Col. Jeff Cantor, founder & CEO, New Jersey State Veterans Chamber of Commerce, because it better matches the number of businesses that are able to bid.

Too often, set-asides in government contracts were not awarded because not enough businesses bid on the work, Cantor said.

“The New Jersey State Veterans Chamber of Commerce is incredibly thankful to Gov. Murphy and the lawmakers responsible for moving this bill forward and signing it into law,” he said.

“Since there are so few disabled veteran-owned businesses, and since the law required three qualified bidders to set aside a contract, it was nearly impossible to set aside a prime contract to a disabled veteran-owned business. Now that the governor is reducing that requirement from three to two qualified businesses, we will likely see a significant number of prime contracts set aside.”

Murphy and legislative leaders said the law underscores their commitment to promoting economic opportunity among New Jersey veterans.

“It is our obligation — not just as elected officials, but as fellow Americans — to do everything in our power to dismantle obstacles to opportunity for our state’s veterans,” Murphy said. “In recognition of the extraordinary sacrifices made by our disabled veterans and the considerable challenges they continue to face, this legislation will provide a much-needed boost to veteran-owned businesses striving to secure a foothold in our growing economy.”

Brig. Gen. Lisa J. Hou, commissioner of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and adjutant general of New Jersey, said her organization is eager to help.

“I encourage all veteran business owners to register, and continue to update their credentials with New Jersey Start,” she said. “The Department of Military and Veteran Affairs stands ready to provide assistance.”

Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Trenton) was thrilled.

“With this bill, we reinforce our commitment to supporting our disabled veterans by streamlining the process for designating set-aside contracts,” she said. “By reducing the requirement from three to two qualified disabled veterans’ businesses, New Jersey is not only aligning with national standards, but also fostering greater opportunities for veterans to participate in public contracts.”

Cantor, whose group has been leading the charge on the issue, was grateful.

“We sincerely thank the governor for working with the New Jersey State Veterans Chamber of Commerce, who has been advocating for this bill, and signed it into law,” he said. “We appreciate Gov. Murphy on his focus on improving the lives of New Jersey’s veterans and the New Jersey veterans’ business community.”