What Jersey City is doing to help minority businesses get city contracts

This post was originally published here.

Local businesses have a chance this weekend to learn the ins and outs of working with Jersey City as vendors or service providers.

The “Doing Business with Jersey City” free workshop will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. tomorrow at City Hall, 280 Grove St. Registration can be made online via Eventbrite today. The workshop is spearheaded by the city’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

“The Office of Diversity and Inclusion was created primarily out of response to concern over the Croson Study,” said Soraya Hebron, director of the office, referring to the 2011 study found that Jersey City showed a disparity in contracting and purchasing from minority- and women-owned businesses.

Fast-forward to January 2018, when the city announced the hiring of Hebron to replace the Rev. Reginald McRae. Hebron is a Jersey City native who attended High Tech High School and went on to study urban studies and Africana studies at University of Pennsylvania.

Her return to her home city comes with a drive to make changes.

“It (is) a great opportunity for me to make an impact on where I’m from. There’s probably nothing better than that.”

Hebron, 24, added that she and the five other members of her team reach out to businesses in different ways — through canvassing and handing out fliers, social media platforms and community town halls. Her office also maintains a listserv of businesses they interact with, she said.

“We really try to think about how we can make this space more approachable and less intimidating to members of the public.”

As director of the ODI, she said she hopes to register every minority- and women-owned business in Jersey City.

“We want to make sure that city employees feel that the city represents and reflects the demographics of the community. We are the No. 1 diverse city in the country. That should be reflected in the people (who) work for the city and make it run.”

Hebron added that her office wants to know the real challenges people face when they try to work with the city so her office can better address their concerns.

“We’re not just here to say ‘we have an office of diversity and inclusion.'”

The “Doing Business with Jersey City” workshops take place at least twice a year, Hebron said, according to the office’s ordinances.

The ODI is currently working with the Jersey City Economic Development Corp. to plan a small business workshop series, which is expected to launch next year.

“Our goal is to help businesses become vendors for the city,” she said.

The series, expected to be six to eight sessions, would train people in the areas the city deems important for a business, like marketing or organizing payroll, Hebron said.

For tomorrow’s workshop, attendees are encouraged to bring business cards, business registration certificate and questions.

Credit: Original article published here.