In an effort to attract small, minority- and women-owned businesses, the Department of the Treasury and the NJ Economic Development Authority (EDA) is striving for contract inclusiveness as two new state office building projects get underway.

During an event held last week, dubbed “Doing Business with the State of New Jersey,” at Thomas Edison State University, Government representatives and construction management professionals presented to help business owners explore subcontracting opportunities on the two new state-sponsored projects in downtown Trenton that will replace the aging structures that currently house the Department of Health, as well as the Division of Taxation.

“It’s incumbent upon us to ensure that the playing field is level and inclusive when it comes to doing business with the state and that tax dollars are invested in a manner that helps buoy the community and the people who call it home,” said State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio. “This approach is very much in line with the goal of inclusivity that the Governor laid out this week in his new economic development strategic plan.”

The two new buildings, totaling over 400,000 square feet, represent an investment of more than $225 million. The state is committed to ensuring an open and competitive bidding process for consultants and contractors while also employing Affirmative Action hiring goals, meeting prevailing wage requirements, and fulfilling a 25 percent set aside goal for small business enterprises.

The EDA is responsible for bonding and procurement authority on behalf of Treasury who will own and manage the buildings. Turner Construction is serving as construction manager for the Health building and Torcon was recently selected as construction manager for the Taxation building.

Attendees had the opportunity to explore potential business opportunities with representatives from Treasury, EDA, the New Jersey Business Action Center, the State Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Turner Construction, Torcon, and the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey.

Among the resources discussed included the Small Business Bonding Readiness Assistance Program, a training initiative that better positions small, minority- and women-owned businesses to compete for state or federal government contracts. The bonding program is offered free of charge through a partnership between the EDA and the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey.

Also on hand were representatives from the City of Trenton, including Mayor W. Reed Gusciora. Just recently, Governor Murphy signed an Executive Order creating the New Jersey State Capital Partnership, which directs various state departments, including Treasury & EDA, to work hand-in-hand with the Gusciora Administration to harness state resources to spur economic development in Trenton.

“The city is acting as a catalyst so that our residents can capitalize from these developments. If we want to empower our residents in these situations, we need to take action. We need jobs and professional opportunities, which is what we’re delivering here,” said Mayor W. Reed Gusciora. “With more than a quarter of our taxable property hosting state agencies, we hope Trentonians take advantage of the opportunities at our door. We need business owners in our community and every person should be at the table to see how it’s done. Every neighborhood should have the same path to entrepreneurial training.”