Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 295 on May 3rd, instructing the New Jersey Department of the Treasury to establish a State-backed certification program for LGBTQ+-owned businesses.

“New Jersey has once again proven itself to be a proud ally of the LGBT community,” said Augusto Penaranda, Executive Director of the NJ Pride Chamber of Commerce. “Including LGBT-owned businesses in Treasury’s Uniform Certification System, currently used by SMWBE businesses, will allow more equitable participation for these businesses in the state’s economic initiatives and hopefully attract new LGBT businesses to relocate to New Jersey.”

The State already has certification programs in place for small businesses and businesses owned by minorities, women, veterans, and disabled veterans. Last year, Treasury began waiving the $100 fee for these businesses to become certified. 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. 

“WHEREAS, as one of the first States in the country to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, New Jersey seeks to ensure equal economic and social opportunity for the LGBTQ+ community;” the order writes.

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.

“This Executive Order will make it easier for companies to identify which businesses are owned by the LGBTQ+ community and help ensure diversity in contracting,” said Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality. “By taking this step, Gov. Murphy once again ensures that New Jersey is one of the most progressive states in the nation when it comes to LGBTQ+ equality.”

The Department will establish rules and regulations 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. 

Under the program, 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.

“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 Governor Murphy. “I am honored to support the endeavors of entrepreneurs from a historically underrepresented community through the creation of this certification program. New Jersey will always value the contributions of our LGBTQ+ community.”

Treasury will establish rules and regulations to effectuate the Executive 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.

View Executive Order No. 295 here.