Governor Phil Murphy

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New Jersey to Host Garden State’s First Ever Summit to Connect Minority, Women, Veteran, & LGBTQ Businesses with Billion-Dollar Economic Engine


TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy announced today that the State of New Jersey will host NJ Connects, the first-ever state summit designed to connect minority-, women-, veteran-, and LGBTQ-owned businesses with roughly one billion dollars in public and private sector contracting opportunities.

In keeping with the Governor’s commitment to build a stronger and fairer economy, the summit – taking place in Newark on September 20 – is designed to create a more robust and diverse state contracting supply chain by fostering opportunities for minority, women, veteran, and LGBTQ business enterprises (MWVBE).

“Our goal is to ensure that everyone who wants to do business, both with and within the great State of New Jersey, has the tools and support they need in order to succeed,” said Governor Murphy. “This summit will provide critical resources to connect diverse businesses with economic opportunities in order to further our goal of creating a stronger and fairer economy.”

The event is being spearheaded by the state’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI), which was created by Governor Murphy shortly after taking office last year. The office is overseen by Hester Agudosi, Esq., who was appointed Chief Diversity Officer by the Governor to support the administration’s efforts to drive economic growth through the creation of more inclusive hiring opportunities for the state’s diverse businesses.

 "It’s important that diverse business owners have a seat at the table,” said Chief Diversity Officer Agudosi. “NJ Connects will provide a forum for business owners to showcase their products and services, while connecting them to key public and private sector procurement decision makers. Equally important, this annual event will provide a platform for procurement and purchasing leaders to introduce their organizations and specific project needs, while demonstrating their commitment to building a diverse contracting supply chain.”

NJ Connects will be held on Friday, September 20, at the Wellness and Events Center on the campus of the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) in Newark. The event will feature learning sessions and panel discussions; business boot camps and “How To” workshops; public and private sector business exhibitors; and networking opportunities. More than 750 individuals are expected to attend with approximately 150 exhibitors from both the public and private sectors.

Minority, women, veteran, and LGBTQ business owners interested in working with the State of New Jersey and with New Jersey-based corporations that offer robust supplier diversity programs are encouraged to attend. Procurement and purchasing representatives from New Jersey-based corporations looking to introduce their organizations and opportunities to the MWVBE community are also encouraged to attend.

Exhibitor space is available for government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private corporations.  Copper, Platinum, and Diamond sponsorship packages are also available, which include complimentary registration tickets, a prime exhibitor location, participation in event programming, and a wide range of print and digital exposure from pre-event through post-event marketing.  Any public or private entity interested in serving as a sponsor or an exhibitor, should contact Emogene Mitchell at or 908-899-0229.

The event is easily accessible by car, bus, train or air. For more information on registering for the event, becoming an exhibitor, or securing a sponsorship, visit the NJ Connects event page.

About the Office of Diversity and Inclusion
  The Office of Diversity and Inclusion was established in the Department of the Treasury to lead New Jersey’s efforts to promote diverse leadership in government that is reflective of the state’s population and to increase the utilization of minority and women-owned businesses in the state contracting process. Programs and initiatives include:

  • Training curriculum that provides for core competencies in diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Collaboration with Cabinet members and appointing authorities to identify diverse workforce talent
  • Development of a statewide strategic Diversity and Inclusion plan designed to provide for accountability, measure performance and centralize processes and procedures across state departments, agencies, authorities, colleges and universities. As a result, greater utilization of MWVBEs in state procurement can be achieved.

About Newark
Newark is known as New Jersey’s Gateway City and is accessible from just about anywhere by train, bus, air and car. It is also one of the most diverse cities in the state and a supplier diversity partner for many minority- and women-owned businesses. Under the leadership of Mayor Ras Jua Baraka, Newark is enjoying an economic renaissance and resurgence with billions of dollars in real estate development under construction and in the pipeline. With an international airport, two major train stations, and seven major highways, it is easy to see why the city offers more than 140,000 jobs and is home to some of the largest corporations, retail giants, and world-class entertainment venues.  Additionally, more than 50,000 faculty, students, and staff across several institutions of higher learning call Newark home.

About New Jersey Institute of Technology

New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is the state’s public polytechnic university and one of New Jersey’s most highly respected centers of higher education.  NJIT offers more than 125 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in six specialized schools instructed by expert faculty, 98 percent of whom hold the highest degree in their field. Not only does NJIT offer an ideal location for the Summit, but it is also a supplier diversity partner for many minority- and women-owned businesses.