Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has announced legislation to reauthorize and to expand the MWBE program to more contracts entirely funded by the state.
The proposed legislative changes and expansion to include all state-funded contracts would leverage the largest pool of state funding in history to combat systemic discrimination and create new opportunities for MWBE participation at every level, according to Cuomo.
Since 2011, state-certified MWBEs have won more than $10.4 billion in state contracts and the state has certified more than 6,600 MWBEs and re-certified more than 4,700 MWBEs.
“In New York, we know that our economy is strongest when everyone is empowered to participate, which is why we continue to work to increase access and opportunities to success for minority and women owned businesses to strengthen and diversify our economy,” Cuomo said. “These actions will break down barriers to success and empower these business owners to help fuel our economy and move this great state forward.”
Under current law, MWBE goals only apply to state-funded contracts issued by state agencies and authorities, but do not attach to contracts issued by localities and other entities which are funded by the state. The legislation will require MWBE goals on state funds used for contracting purposes on the local level.
The legislative proposal also creates a Workforce Diversity Program, which would establish workforce participation goals for contractors to utilize women and minority group members as employees on state projects, officials said.
The governor’s budget proposal increases opportunities for MWBEs to win prime contracts by expanding the discretionary purchasing threshold to $400,000 and providing bidding credits to MWBE prime contracts on certain construction projects. These proposed legislative changes would serve to increase opportunities for MWBE primes to win that first project, according to the governor.
To safeguard the MWBE program and deter the engagement of fraudulent MWBE contracting activities, the governor has also included in his legislative proposal the addition of MWBE fraud misdemeanors and felonies to the State Penal Law.
“New York remains committed to leveling the playing field and giving women and minority-owned businesses increased access to state contracts and funding,” Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said.
Sen. James Sanders Jr., chairman of the Senate Task Force on MWBE, said, “Our economy is strongest when everyone participates, and these actions to build on the success of the MWBE program will continue to expand economy opportunities for all.”
Empire State Development President, CEO, and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “Our economic strength relies on equality of access and opportunity for all New Yorkers, in the workplace, in the boardroom, in state contracting and beyond. These proposals will help push the state to strive for even greater MWBE participation in contracting at all levels. New York leads the nation in its commitment to supporting minority and women entrepreneurs, and we’re continuing to build on that progress.”
The state Directory of Certified Firms currently has more than 8,600 certified firms, and is one of the largest listings in the nation of MWBE firms ready, willing and able to perform on public contracts, officials said.
The state’s MWBE certification assistance program will provide support to firms seeking certification and will allow firms to work directly with the grantees through one-on-one sessions to identify any deficiencies in their MWBE certification application that may affect the timeliness and ultimate certification decision by Empire State Development’s Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development.
Officials said these initiatives build on the tools, resources, and capacity-building opportunities that New York state offers the MWBE community.