In 2010 Gov. Cuomo set a goal to have 20 percent of all New York State government contracts go to minority- and women-owned business enterprise firms that are certified with the state.
However, New York still has a long way to go, with about 6 percent of contracts going to certified businesses statewide and about 4.5 percent citywide. To help achieve the governor’s goal, the MWBE team, chaired by former city Comptroller Bill Thompson, holds informational seminars such as the one on June 28 sponsored by the the Queens Chamber of Commerce.
The certification is not too lengthy with a few pages of questions, but landing the contracts does take some work, Queens Economic Development Corporation Deputy Director Franklin Mora told to a group of about a dozen women at last Thursday’s seminar, held in the Bulova Corporate Center in Jackson Heights
The city and the state want to see that a business can handle big contracts by reviewing taxes and work volume the company has done in the past.
“You have to prove that you can do bigger contacts,” Mora said.
This is where the certification can help. The state wants to meet its goal of contracting from MWBE businesses, and the certification will stand out on a proposal.
Also, certified companies can access a database of other MWBEs. If a company can’t land a big government contract on its own the business could team with another certified company and together get the contract.
Going for the big contracts is obviously lucrative, Mora said. Between 2007 and 2009 19,000 government contracts valued at more than $1.2 billion were awarded to MWBE businesses.
Once an MWBE firm cements a contract it, can use certification resources such as access to technical assistance, bonding and certain forms of financing.
“The city will not finance you, but can give subsidies to lenders,” Mora said.
To become certified MBE, WBE or MWBE, the business must be owned, operated and controlled by an Asian American, African American or Hispanic American, or a woman. Mora underscored that the state wants to see that the woman or minority person is involved in the day-to-day operations of the company not just there half the time as a figurehead.
Also, the business must have been in operation for at least one year and the owner must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
For city certification the establishment must be located in the city or in Nassau, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk, Westchester, Bergen, Hudson or Passaic counties.
“This is very helpful,” President of Fabulous Fitness NYC Candice Woods said. Fabulous Fitness NYC leads school field trips and healthy living classes.
Mora said the certification will be most beneficial to businesses offering services, since government contracts for materials often go to larger companies that provide bulk. However, the government often needs to hold a few specialized classes to train employees. This is the area where MWBEs can cash in.