Essex County News

Essex County Freeholders Pass Legislation to Support Minority-Owned, Women-Owned and Veteran-Owned Businesses

Credits: Natalie Heard Hackett

NEWARK, NJ – New legislation has been enacted by the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders designed to increase economic opportunity for women-owned, minority-owned, and veteran-owned businesses, county officials announced.

During the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders on Wednesday, the board unanimously passed an ordinance that they hope will redefine economic inclusion in Essex County. 

Ordinance O-2017-00005, is sponsored by Freeholder President Britnee N. Timberlake, At-Large Freeholders Lebby C. Jones, and Rufus I. Johnson and establishes a set-aside and joint venture program to increase economic opportunity for women-owned, minority-owned, and veteran-owned businesses.

Sign Up for E-News

According to the release, the set-asides are in the areas of goods and services, nonprofessional services, and professional services, while establishing a “Joint Venture” program for construction contracts.

County officials maintain that the Joint Venture method has been successful in other communities, such as Atlanta, Ga.

County officials hope that this new ordinance will help minority-owned, women-owned and veteran-owned businesses to become more competitive in the bid process. The challenge for many companies is for them to obtain “bonding” since it involves having large amounts of cash on hand not committed to use. This law states that the bond must be assigned to the joint venture formed and thus opens access to major construction contract participation for MBEs, WBEs, and VOBs.

President Timberlake shared remarks during the meeting, stating, “On average, women in the U.S.A. make twenty cents less on the dollar than men; contracting more women-owned businesses can help close that gap. There are plenty of qualified, ready, and able minority-owned companies who can do the work but face passive discriminatory policies limiting access to capital. This legislation can improve such conditions and offer economic opportunity. Furthermore, our veterans had our back, and now this law mandates we have theirs by making an effort to support their businesses.”



3-Year 2014-2016 Average Contract Spend

Projected Average Contract Spend by the year 2020









Freeholder Lebby Jones said, “This law was a long time coming, and it undergirds entrepreneurs who need the support by offering an opportunity for their businesses to grow and create more jobs.”

A review of Essex County’s 2014, 2015, and 2016 reports from the Office of Small Business Development and Affirmative Action revealed the County’s total average “spend” on contracts was 33% for Small Business Enterprises (SBEs), but only 6% for Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs), 9% for Women Business Enterprises (WBEs), and .16% for Veteran Owned Businesses(VOBs). The Board’s goal, embodied in this law, is to increasethe average “spend” to 33% for SBEs, 27% for MBEs, 25% for WBEs, and 15% for VOBs by the year 2020.

Freeholder Johnson added, “This is about spurring economic development opportunities for companies that have been historically overlooked, disregarded, and systematically abused nationwide.”

Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin was present and expressed his support for the Board and his commitment to duplicating this law at the State level, something Assembly Speaker Emeritus Sheila Y. Oliver and Senator Ronald L. Rice are also in support. LeRoy J. Jones, Jr., Chairman of the Essex County Democratic Committee, congratulated President Timberlake on her “steady hand of leadership” and commended the Board as a whole and the Administration for this “hand up, not a hand out.”

Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr., reflected on the law, stating, “The Set-Aside and Joint Venture Ordinance adopted by the Freeholders displays our continued commitment to promoting opportunities for small, minority, woman and veteran owned companies to obtain contracts to do business with Essex County. Essex was the first – and is still the only county in New Jersey – to conduct a Disparity Study, and this new ordinance will provide us with additional tools to offer opportunities to a more diverse group of vendors who reflect our county’s population.”

Clarence Jackson, Commander of the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 3 in Newark, applauded this initiative  encouraging Veteran entrepreneurship and said, “I look forward to getting the word out about this new ordinance.”

Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, Executive Director of New Jersey Citizen Action, added, “NJCA, commends Freeholder President Britnee Timberlake and the Freeholders for implementing this law, which ensures that historically overlooked women, minority, and veteran-owned small businesses are fairly represented among county contractors. The Freeholders are leading the way with initiatives that focus on fixing specific and documented economic disparities in Essex County.”

Marcia Marley, President of BlueWaveNJ, also offered support, stating, “BWNJ endorses the spirit of this ordinance and believes it is a step in the right direction needed to correct the discrimination against minority and women-owned businesses.”

Businesses interested in Essex County bid opportunities referred to in this new ordinance should register as an NJ State Certified MBE, WBE, or VOB. Registration applications and guidelines can be accessed through the State of New Jersey Business Portal website Businesses must also register with Essex County to automatically be informed of and apply for opportunities with the County.

As stated on, "once registered, vendors can download current opportunity documentation, stay up to date with the purchasing process, and track past awards." 


For more help or information, please contact the following: 

• New Jersey State Business Action Center, (866)-534-7789,

• Essex County Department of Administration and Finance Office of Purchasing, (973)-621-5100,,;

• Essex County Small Business Development and Affirmative Action Department, (973)-621-7958,


A free non-mandatory State Contracts and Competitive Purchasing Workshop will also be held on August 17, 2017,from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM at McLoone's Boathouse located at 9 Cherry Lane in West Orange. To register, use the following link:


TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Livingston Students Make Their Voices Heard in National Walkout

March 15, 2018

LIVINGSTON, NJ — In order to make their voices heard and prove that “age is no obstacle to activism,” hundreds of Livingston High School (LHS) students participated in the student-led National School Walkout on Wednesday morning. For 17 minutes, the students gathered on the blacktop near the turf to honor the victims of the Parkland shooting and to also take a stance on gun ...

Fair Lawn High School Students Walkout, Show Solidarity with Parkland, FL Victims

March 15, 2018

FAIR LAWN, NJ - Students walked out of class for 17 minutes to show solidarity with Parkland, FL students and teachers killed on Feb. 14.

Asking for tougher gun laws, students held signs in protest of a lack of government action, in addition to victims from other school shootings.

Glen Rock High School held a similar walkout in which the press was asked to stay away. Students in Glen Rock ...

Upcoming Events

Sun, March 18, 8:30 AM

Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge HQ, Sussex

NJ Audubon: Winter Raptors and Wildfowl: Wallkill ...


Sun, March 18, 1:00 PM

Crane House and Historic YWCA, Montclair

Tours of the Crane House and Historic YWCA

Arts & Entertainment

Sun, March 18, 1:00 PM

Montclair History Center, Montclair

Tours of the Crane House and Historic YWCA.

Arts & Entertainment

Montclair Police Blotter: Vehicles Struck by Falling Trees, Attempted Burglary to Gates Ave. Residences and More

March 15, 2018

MONTCLAIR, NJ- The following blotter was issued by the Montclair Police Department on  March 13, 2018. 

03-07- 2018 (Orange Road) Attempted burglary to a residence. The suspect was not successful in gaining
access to the residence. The suspect vehicle was described as a white Dodge Ram pickup truck.
03-10- 2018 (North Fullerton Avenue) Theft of delivered packages ...

Edgemont Park House: Movies, Knitting, Exercise and More

March 18, 2018

What’s Happening ​This Week @ Edgemont Park House

 Monday 3/19    11:30/1:30 Healthy Bones (registration full)

                               3:15 MILL Stronger Core (registration full)

Tuesday ...