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