The passage of the six bills marks groundbreaking advancements that will shed new light on the City’s treatment of Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprisess. For the first time agencies will be required to train employees and report on their work with MWBEs. These preliminaries, along with the appointment of an advisory board, will increase the financial and growth opportunities for MWBEs across the five boroughs.
On Wednesday, September 14th members of the City Council’s Women’s Caucus, Public Advocate Tish James, along with Council Members Laurie Cumbo, Helen Rosenthal and Elizabeth Crowley, gathered support from their colleagues to pass a package of bills dedicated to supporting the Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE) of New York City.
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While this legislation makes new strides in the effort to increase the support of MWBEs, there is still much to be done. First on the agenda, the city must hire a full-time Chief Diversity Officer, while also creating measures to reach the procurement goals of 30 percent and ensuring on-time payments for MWBE contractors. It is the hope of The Black Institute and the Black Leadership Action Coalition that this package of advancements will call for an opportunity to further address the issue of access to credit and capital for MWBEs by committing one percent of City pension funds to close the disparity gap for MWBEs with regard to access to capital.
“Thanks to the dedication of the women’s caucus and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, we have taken a long overdue step towards accountability and oversight when it comes to the city’s dealings with MWBEs. The appointment of a real advisory board, which will be required to evaluate MWBE involvement in city contracts, is a true victory. Moving forward, we must continue to fight for MWBE access to credit and capital by committing one percent of the City’s pension funds to close the disparity gap,” said Bertha Lewis, President and Founder of The Black Institute & Black Leadership Action Coalition.
“In a City that prides itself on opportunity, women and people of color in business are too often sidelined in favor of the old boys’ club,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “Ensuring our procurement officers are properly trained is critical to changing the status quo. As government officials, we must change our own practices and ensure that our procurement budget reflects the diversity of the City’s business owners,” said Public Advocate Tish James.
“MWBEs have been on the back burner for far too long. I am proud to have worked alongside my colleagues in government and fierce advocates to bring greater transparency and accountability procedures to the forefront, in order to support and highlight opportunities to advance MWBEs. Int. 923 will require the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) to assess and evaluate whether contractors receiving economic development benefits have fully complied with MWBE requirements, as well as require the Department of Small Business Services to submit a report on EDC’s assessment. These requirements bring real oversight to the process and support continued development of MWBEs. Int. 981 marks the creation of an advisory board to enhance city procurement opportunities for MWBEs. As Chair of the Committee on Women’s Issues and co-Chair of the Women’s Caucus, I am elated that the six bills in the MWBE legislative package will be voted on at Stated. This is a significant milestone in achieving our greater goal of providing these enterprises with more openings to participate in the procurement process, and to thrive in the City of New York’s business sector,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo.
“New York City has the largest and most diverse population of businesses in the country, yet our City procurement does not reflect that same diversity. To change this, it’s critical our city agencies prioritize M/WBE contracting and be more transparent in its plans to do so. My legislation requires publicly sharing these goals, which will allow us to identify any agency falling short, and why. Thank you to Bertha Lewis and the Black Institute as well as Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and my City Council colleagues for their dedication to this issue,” said Council Member Elizabeth Crowley.
“As Chair of the Contracts Committee and Co-Chair of the Women’s Caucus, I am proud to play a role in passing this package of bills on M/WBEs, including two bills of my own. Taken together, the information we will glean from this legislation will lay the groundwork for how the city can and will do better by our minority and women owned businesses. In particular, this legislation will support opportunities to break large contracts into component parts that will enhance competition for M/WBE bids,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.
“Of all the broken pieces that we need to fix in order to end the ‘tale of two cities,’ equal economic opportunities are the biggest among them. And an expansion of MWBE contracts with fair and equitable distribution of these business opportunities from the city and states is the easiest way to achieve fairness and equality,” said Reverend Dennis Dillion, Publisher of The New York Christian.