Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has set a new state goal to award 30 percent of government contracts to minority and women-owned business enterprises, while also signing legislation Wednesday meant to boost their participation.
"Increasing the number of minority and women-owned companies that do business with the state is an important way to encourage diversity and grow opportunities for New Yorkers," Cuomo said.
Cuomo made the announcement Wednesday at the state's Fourth Annual MWBE Forum in Albany. He disclosed at the event that the state's MWBE utilization reached 25 percent of contracts, a total of nearly $2 billion, surpassing the original 20 percent commitment he made in 2011.
The state "continues to be a leader and pioneer in MWBE utilization in the nation," said Phil Andrews, president of the Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce, which is working toward increasing the number of certified MWBEs in its member network.
In July, there were nearly 7,300 certified MWBE firms in the state, of which nearly 900 were on Long Island.
Cuomo signed a bill Wednesday that would authorize the director of Empire State Development's Division of Minority and Women-Owned Business Development to consider granting upon request a provisional one-year waiver of the program's restrictions to companies with 300 or fewer employees, and owners with a personal net worth of under $3.5 million.
"The initiative to expand the eligibility is really exciting," said Erica Chase-Gregory, acting director of the Farmingdale Small Business Development Center.
The law, which went into effect immediately, sunsets in 2016 when a new state disparity study will be completed.
The new law and goal "means business owners will be taking a chance and hiring more people," said Julie Marchesella, president of the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce. Charlene Thompson, MWBE committee chair of the Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce, and president and CEO of Baldwin-based Thompson Economic Development Services, applauded Cuomo's commitment. But Thompson added that there is a "need for additional funding to expedite the certification process, support training and capacity building for certified MWBE small business owners seeking to successfully compete."