A Letter from Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno

It was a pleasure to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month.  This year’s Hispanic Heritage Month theme revolves around the idea that we are all here to honor our heritage, but to do this, we must work together to build our future. We have a lot to be proud of.  

In our state, the Hispanic Community continues to make a tremendous impact. In fact, Hispanic residents are the nation and state’s largest minority group and fastest growing population.

In New Jersey, more than 1.5 million people identify themselves as Hispanic – accounting for 19% of the state’s total population. This group of residents represent many customs and contributes cultural traditions that provide a rich diversity to our nation and state.  A report recently published by the Partnership for a New American Economy shows how significant their economic contribution is; statewide, Hispanics account for $22.9 billion of the spending power. The report estimates that Hispanics also pay $7.6 billion in federal, state and local taxes.

During the last several weeks, we’ve recognized Hispanic residents and organizations that play a crucial role in our society. We highlighted their contributions to our schools, businesses and communities that will long outlast the month-long celebration.

I was honored to attend several events that commemorated the contributions of Hispanics and Latinos to New Jersey, including a celebration hosted by the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey. This Association has done an exceptional job providing New Jersey’s Hispanic legal professionals and students with the support they need, to maximize their potential.

I was also honored to attend the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey’s annual Convention and Awards Luncheon. During this celebration, I congratulated their leadership for securing a $60,000 grant for their Hispanic Entrepreneurship Assistance Program. Thank you to the Chamber for the Chairman’s Award which will be a constant reminder of how far we have come and how much more we have to do.

In total, my Department has invested $162,000 in the Chamber’s Entrepreneurship program, and $880,000 statewide toward encouraging Hispanic entrepreneurship, which serves as an enormous asset to Hispanic residents who are interested in starting a business and or are interested in expanding their business.

In 2000, only 5.8% of the overall workforce in state government were Hispanic residents. Today, I am proud to say that number has increased to 10.2% of the overall workforce.  Hispanic representation has also increased in New Jersey’s Superior Court by more than 55%. The Governor has nominated 19 judicial candidates, reappointed 8 Superior Court judges to the bench as well as appointed a Hispanic Justice to the New Jersey Supreme Court.

In addition, more than 130 students have graduated from the Governor’s Hispanic Fellows Program in the last seven years. This program is a unique fellowship that exposes Hispanic college students to career opportunities in the private sector, state government, and other public sectors. To date, my department has invested over $589,000 to this most worthy initiative that yields significant returns in human capitol.  I recognize that if we don’t invest in our youth now, we will surely invest more tomorrow in trying to repair adults.

Throughout my time in office, we have also partnered with Hispanic business leaders to improve and develop our business community. We have hired a Spanish speaking advocate to help with our business call center and we have translated our business outreach documents into Spanish. 

In each county and in each town, we are seeing more minority entrepreneurs opening businesses. I’ve seen this growth firsthand, and I could not be more proud of what we’ve accomplished.

Our Center for Hispanic Policy, Research and Development and the Office of Faith Based Initiatives, in my Office, offer innovative entrepreneur development programs to the residents of New Jersey. We are awarding more than $1 million in grants through our Center for Hispanic Policy, Research and Development program.

Our work continues to help give all New Jerseyans a true shot at achieving the American Dream, from the single mother who no longer has to live paycheck to paycheck, to the nonprofit organization that now employs local youth in its social entrepreneurship program.

Having traveled hundreds of thousands of miles in this state, and spoken to countless business owners, I know there is still work to be done. But for now, let’s honor Hispanic American culture and continue to work together in building our future.


Kim Guadagno
Lt. Governor

 

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