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LI assemblywoman on diversity team

Assemb. Earlene Hooper with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver

Assemb. Earlene Hooper with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver Credit: New York State Assembly

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has appointed Assembly Deputy Speaker Earlene Hooper, a Democrat from Hempstead Village, to a new team focused on increasing the participation of minority-owned and women-owned business in state contracting. 

"I am passionately disappointed" in the lack of current government contracting opportunities for minorities and women, Hooper said Thursday. She said she intends to use the Cuomo initative to push for changes in the way contracts are awarded by school districts and by universities and healthcare organizations that get public funding

"Something has got to change for the better for the constituents, not just of the 18th district, but of Nassau County,” Hooper said. “I am going to be much more vigilant” about the contracting and subcontracing process for publicly-funded institutions, she said.

Hooper's district includes Hempstead, Uniondale, Roosevelt and parts of Freeport, Lakeview, Merrick, West Hempstead and Baldwin. 

Cuomo said he wants to see a 20 percent expansion in state contracts awarded to businesses owned by minorities and women. 

"Since its creation, the Empire State's great strength has come from the diversity, innovation and perseverance of all its residents," Cuomo said in a statement. 

"…We must always look for ways to improve and strengthen our business climate and make it reflective of our current world," Cuomo said. 

"This team will find new ways to open doors to success for any New Yorker who has the talent, drive and passion for their business to succeed." 

These are some of the barriers to diversity in business ownership and in state contract awards, Cuomo’s office said: 

*Commitment from agency leadership 

*Access to information 

*Specificity in contracts regarding diversity 

*Assistance and supportive services programs 

*Obstacles in credit and bonding that lead to difficulty in securing state contracts 

*Inconsistent and infrequent monitoring and compliance during contract period 

The team includes former New York City Comptroller William Thompson, who will be chairman; along with state agency leaders, state Senate and Assembly members, private contractors and businesses, and academic experts.

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