New York’s con­tracts with mi­nor­ity-, women-owned firms grow

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICA - By NIU YUE in New York

The value of con­tracts that New York City awarded to busi­nesses owned by mi­nori­ties and women rose 57 per­cent in the fis­cal year ended June 30.

The city awarded con­tracts worth $690 mil­lion to mi­nor­ityand woman-owned business (M/WBEs) in the oneyear pe­riod,” Mayor Bill de Bla­sio said.

“That is a be­gin­ning, and we are com­mit­ted to in­creas­ing that num­ber,” de Bla­sio said at the city’s Eighth An­nual Pro­cure­ment Fair, which aims to build con­nec­tions be­tween busi­nesses and M/ WBEs.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of more than 800 M/WBEs at­tended the fair along with more than 70 pur­chasers — mostly gov­ern­ment agen­cies and con­trac­tors.

De Bla­sio noted that of the 3,802 firms with M/WBE cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, 749 re­ceived the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in the first 10 months of 2014.

“It’s a strong start with so much more to do,” the mayor said. “We want to see our business com­mu­nity re­flect all of our peo­ple. We want to see job op­por­tu­ni­ties for all our peo­ple,” said de Bla­sio.

M/WBE cer­ti­fi­ca­tion gives the business own­ers more op­por­tu­ni­ties to sign con­tracts with the gov­ern­ment and to be en­rolled in the city’s business man­age­ment ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams.

Most M/WBEs are small busi­nesses, ac­cord­ing to Mario Osori, as­sis­tant com­mis­sioner of New York City’s Small Business Ser­vices.

“Small busi­nesses do the most hir­ing,” she said. “Dur­ing the re­ces­sion go­ing back to 2008, it was hard to get into big cor­po­ra­tions, but small busi­nesses would hire peo­ple,” she said. “So it helps in build­ing their neigh­bor­hoods and com­mu­ni­ties and im­proves the de­vel­op­ment of the city.”

Lawrence Ding, di­rec­tor of Al­liance Com­put­ing So­lu­tions, an IT train­ing in­sti­tu­tion owned by Chi­nese Americans with around 100 stu­dents and 10 em­ploy­ees, said “it’s hard to get into the main­stream. If there were no gov­ern­ment support, you would hardly have the op­por­tu­nity.”

“Peo­ple pre­fer to do business with whom they have al­ready known, usu­ally larger and older com­pa­nies, ac­cord­ing to Michelle Mur­dock, an M/WBE li­ai­son with Dra­ga­dos, a New York city in­fra­struc­ture con­trac­tor. “M/WBEs don’t have the re­la­tion­ships.”

In 1992, David Dink­ins, New York City’s only African Amer­i­can mayor, signed an ex­ec­u­tive or­der to se­cure 20 per­cent of all city con­tracts for M/WBEs. The or­der was can­celed by his suc­ces­sor Rudy Gi­u­liani in 1993.

The pro­gram was re­vived in 2003 un­der Michael Bloomberg. The law had set goals for M/WBE par­tic­i­pa­tion for con­tracts be­low $1 mil­lion. In 2013, the $1 mil­lion cap was re­moved.

From 2005 to the end of June, more than $4.1 bil­lion had been awarded in con­tracts to M/WBEs, ac­cord­ing to New York City.

The city gov­ern­ment now pro­vides free con­sult­ing ser­vices to M/WBEs to help with their cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, in find­ing work­places and in writ­ing business pro­pos­als.

“We help them in train­ing, so that they can com­pete in con­tracts,” said Osori. After win­ning con­tracts, M/WBE own­ers can ap­ply for gov­ern­ment loans to fi­nance their projects.

M/WBE busi­nesses make up about 40 per­cent of New York City’s busi­nesses but ac­counted for only 3.9 per­cent of the city’s $17.8 bil­lion­dol­lar pro­cure­ment bud­get in the last fis­cal year, ac­cord­ing to New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

In an Oct 1 re­port, Stringer rated New York City “D” on M/WBE pro­cure­ment and called for re­forms.

“The New York City gov­ern­ment is giv­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for women and mi­nori­ties on busi­nesses, be­cause they are un­der­priv­i­leged in the business en­vi­ron­ment,” said Kath­leen Huh Raynor, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of AweHuh Cre­ative Ser­vices and an M/WBE gov­ern­ment con­trac­tor. “But it should be on a com­pet­i­tive ba­sis, and they should stand on their feet.”

She said that for M/WBE cer­ti­fi­ca­tion to work, business own­ers should find a niche and pro­vide bet­ter ser­vices than oth­ers.

“You still have to com­pete,” Raynor said. Lu Hui­quan in New York con­trib­uted to this story.

LU HUI­QUAN / FOR CHINA DAILY

Lawrence Ding (left), a Chi­nese-Amer­i­can business owner, talks with Michelle Mur­dock, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Dra­ga­dos, a gov­ern­ment con­trac­tor, at New York City’s Eighth An­nual Pro­cure­ment Fair on Thurs­day.

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