The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce is joining forces with the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey to address economic inequities that exist for Black citizens and business owners.

Tom Bracken, the president of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, said the partnership will focus on “the areas of education, employment and entrepreneurship" to increase minority representation on their boards and job opportunities in the economy.

He noted New Jersey is one most diverse states in the country but “we’re not taking advantage of that opportunity."

"We’re leaving a lot on the table and what we’re leaving on the table can really add to the state’s GDP (gross domestic product) and the economic health of our state," he said.

John Harmon, the president and founder of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, said diversity is often looked at "from an emotional perspective" but it's also a "value proposition that can provide benefits to us all.”

“Promoting diversity and economic opportunity is not only a moral imperative, it’s a business imperative as well,” he said. “The focus here is really how we can make New Jersey a better place for us all to live and work together.”

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Harmon said the vast majority of Black owned businesses in New Jersey are sole proprietorships. Unemployment and poverty in Black communities is higher than in white communities.

Bracken said the New Jersey Chamber recently added five Black business executives and faith-based leaders to its Board “to really better align our organization with our equality initiative.”

This past August the chief executives of the organizations signed a memorandum of understanding that sets a framework for the two organizations to work together and focus on creating and enhancing education, entrepreneurship and employment opportunities.

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