Governor Cuomo Announces Legislation to Reauthorize MWBE Program Legislation and Expand MWBE Program to All State-Funded Contracts

Creates MWBE Workforce Diversity Program

Leverages Largest Pool of State Funding in History to Create New Opportunities for MWBE Participation at Every Level

FY 2019 Budget Proposals Build on Governor’s MWBE Accomplishments – Nation’s Highest Goal for MWBE Utilization in State Contracts at 30 Percent

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today 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 will leverage the largest pool of State funding in history to combat systemic discrimination and create new opportunities for MWBE participation at every level. This action builds on Governor Cuomo’s work to support women and minorities in achieving representative participation in the economy. In 2014, the Governor increased the Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise goal for State contracting from 20 to 30 percent—the highest in the nation. 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.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

“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,” Governor 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 State 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.

These initiatives are included in Governor Cuomo’s FY 2019 Executive Budget.

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.  This will increase employment opportunities for women and minorities in various industries that do business with the state.

MWBE NYS Forum Exhibit

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 will serve to increase opportunities for MWBE primes to win that first project.

Further, 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.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said, “New York remains committed to leveling the playing field and giving women and minority-owned businesses increased access to State contracts and funding. Governor Cuomo has already shown an unprecedented commitment to MWBEs around the State by setting the highest utilization goal in the nation at 30 percent, and we are taking the next steps to break down barriers.”

Assemblymember Nick Perry, Chair of the New York State Black, Latino and Asian Legislative Caucus, added, “I applaud Governor Cuomo for taking bold action to ensure economic justice for all New Yorkers. New York leads the nation in providing economic opportunities to MWBEs, and these actions will build on and improve that progress. I look forward to working with Governor Cuomo to continue to support diverse businesses throughout our economy.”

Empire State Development President, CEO, and Commissioner Howard Zemsky summed up New York State’s commitment to MWBE’s, “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.”

Governor Cuomo has set the nation’s highest goal for the utilization of MWBEs on New York State contracts at 30 percent and under his leadership, the rate of utilization has increased nearly every year since 2011. For FY 2017, the rate of MWBEs participating in State contracts increased to 27.2 percent, totaling more than $2.2 billion in State contracts. This rate of utilization not only reflects the highest percentage of State contracts awarded to MWBEs in the nation, but also the largest dollar value of contracts awarded. Under the Governor’s leadership, more than 6,600 MWBEs have been newly certified since 2011. The New York 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.

To further support New York State’s MWBEs, in 2017 the Governor announced the launch of the MWBE Business Growth Accelerator and Certification Assistance programs, designed to increase capacity and ensure MWBE participation in State contracting. These new initiatives support the growth and momentum of MWBEs across the state and are well underway to delivering services.

The NYS MWBE Business Growth Accelerator Program creates an opportunity for participating MWBEs to receive intensive technical assistance and business development training through selected local providers with demonstrated experience in serving this business community. Three grant recipients selected by New York State to partner in this initiative have been tasked with implementing an 18-month program that includes seminars and individualized one-on-one business development assistance to participating MWBEs, with efforts focused on areas where there is a collective need for standard business acumen. Grantees will partner with local industry experts in delivering support and training on a range of business topics, including marketing, finance, contracting, and sales – tailored to the capacity needs of each participating MWBE firm.

The NYS MWBE Certification Assistance Program will provide support to firms seeking NYS MWBE 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.

These initiatives build on the plethora of tools, resources, and capacity-building opportunities that New York State offers the MWBE community, including:

Bridge to Success Loan Program: In March 2014, Governor Cuomo launched the “Bridge to Success” loan program to invest at least $20 million to expand access to short term bridge loans for New York State Certified MWBEs. The goal of the State’s investment was to provide the qualified MWBEs the short-term support they needed to access up to $100 million in State contracts. Three years later, the State has already exceeded that goal, with 106 loans totaling just over $16 million supporting over $134 million in contracts for New York State MWBEs. More information is available here.

New York State Surety Bond Assistance Program: In February 2012, Governor Cuomo launched the New York State Surety Bond Assistance Program, which provides technical and financial assistance to help MWBEs and small businesses secure surety bonding. Since the program launched, more than 469 MWBEs and small businesses have graduated from bond readiness training and MWBEs represent $26.65 million in bonding capacity as a result of New York State training, credit facilitation, and surety bond collateral support. More information is available here.

Regional Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises Opportunities Expo Series: Sponsored by Empire State Development’s Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development and local State partners, the annual MWBE Opportunities Expo Series features workshops and panel discussions about New York State MWBE certification and business development resources. It will include the New York State MWBE BOOT CAMP, which links regional technical assistance resources to MWBEs, such as the Small Business Development Center, Procurement & Technical Assistance Centers and the Entrepreneurial Assistance Program. The Expos also include information about state-sponsored financial and technical assistance programs and will be held in every region of New York State in 2018.