Strengthening New Jersey’s Small Business Sector through Diversity

NJ Small Business Guide

The African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey and the New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners detail how their organizations are helping their constituencies succeed in an increasingly diverse business environment.

African American Businesses Experience High Growth Rate

By John E. Harmon, Sr.,
IOM, President & CEO, AACCNJ, Chairman, National Black Chamber of Commerce

According to the most recent US Economic Census, African American businesses experienced a higher growth rate than any other group in New Jersey increasing from 36,000 to 66,000 businesses. Notwithstanding the continual progress of African American businesses in New Jersey, a few of the challenges that persist are: facing a false perception that African American businesses cannot effectively compete in the marketplace; and accessing public-sector opportunities at a level commensurate to their capacity, including those in their immediate service area.

The African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (AACCNJ) has responded by providing ongoing communication of its mission, activities, programming, identification of essential resources and member highlights; all of which contribute to the success of its members via e-blast, our website, our weekly radio broadcast, “The Empowerment Hour” streamed live and on demand on, as well as a monthly column in the South Jersey Journal newspaper.

The AACCNJ has also introduced best practices to its constituency that has evolved from its local and national partners, the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, New Jersey Business Industry Association, the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Black Chamber of Commerce, etc.

Moreover, The AACCNJ has forged a strategic alliance with the Christie Administration, which has provided access to programs, opportunities and resources that are of value to its organization and members.

Since 2007, the AACCNJ has consistently experienced growth in its corporate membership and support. Thus, validating the relevance of AACCNJ and affording opportunities to bring diversity to the supply chain of a number of New Jersey’s finest corporations via the membership.  We also leverage corporate resources to host training and educational programming to enhance the competitiveness of New Jersey’s workforce. It is evident that, based on our success to date, New Jersey’s greatest asset is its diversity and it is critical that we collectively find methods to effectively leverage this asset to benefit the overall economy of our state.

NJAWBO: A Powerful Resource for New Jersey’s Women Entrepreneurs

By Mary Adelman,
NJAWBO State President

Twelve years ago, I saw a press release advertising an open house event for women business owners in Warren County sponsored by The New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners (NJAWBO).  I attended, I joined, and because I found the services offered by NJAWBO so beneficial, I decided to engage at a deeper level, serving in a regional and state capacity. In 2012, I was elected NJAWBO state president. My involvement in the organization has enabled me to grow my business, learn key business strategies and develop long-lasting, fruitful business relationships.

As a new business owner, I was drawn to the resources that NJAWBO provided women.  Services such as education, networking, relationship development and procurement opportunities were exactly what I was looking for.  As I discovered, NJAWBO also offered corporate mentorships, public policy information, business marketing advice, member discounts, strategic partnerships (WIPP, SDDC, NJ Business Action Center), and business development – all critical for start-ups or established business owners.

Since its founding 35 years ago, NJAWBO has supported women business owners with companies/practices of all sizes; our challenges have changed through the years; today, a major challenge is accessibility to loans and federal and other procurement contract opportunities.  More women are searching for alternative funding through family and friends, business plan competitions, and angel/venture capital investors to invest in and support their businesses. They are also seeking an open door to profitable vendor contracts.

When the NFL reached out to NJAWBO looking for qualified women business owners to pursue vendor contracts, NJAWBO ensured its members had the necessary tools by offering procurement training workshops, consistent communication, and access to networking opportunities at the bidder conferences, resulting in vendor selection from among its membership.

At our most recent statewide event, “A Day at the Races,” Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno shared information regarding state programs that our members could utilize in their business development.  The day also included networking; a chance for members to cultivate strategic partnerships with sponsors and other members.

NJAWBO is an organization that “Empowers, Engages and Energizes” its members on multiple levels, throughout the entire state of New Jersey, delivering the necessary tools and partnerships to run a successful business. We encourage women entrepreneurs at all levels to learn more about NJAWBO at and to attend a regional meeting.

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