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PR- 058-12
February 15, 2012


Five New Programs Help M/WBEs Compete in the City’s Procurement Market by Eliminating Market Barriers and Improving Competition

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway and Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel today announced the launch of Compete to Win, a new set of initiatives to help New York City Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBEs) compete for and win City contracts. The value of the new contracting and training opportunities available through Compete to Win amounts to more than $17.2 million for M/WBEs. Since passing Local Law 129 in 2005, the number of M/WBEs certified to do business with the City has grown from 700 to more than 3,400, with firms receiving more than $2.5 billion in City contracts. In fiscal year 2011, nearly $563 million in prime and sub contracts with the City were awarded to M/WBEs. Compete to Win will help even more M/WBEs do business with the City in 2012. The announcement was made as NYC Teaming, a program in partnership with American Express OPEN, launched to help M/WBEs team up to compete and win larger contracts. 

“We must ensure that New York City is a place where everyone has equal access to opportunities to do business and create jobs,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “We’ve made a lot of progress helping minority and women-owned businesses thrive, and now we’ll help them add even more capacity.”

“Small businesses create jobs, and successful small businesses mature and take on more complicated, higher volume work,” said Deputy Mayor Holloway. “The programs we’re launching today will help more Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises be part of that success by giving them the support they need to compete for, win, and successfully execute City contracts. I’d like to particularly thank American Express for providing critical training and mentorship to these firms.”

“Expanding economic opportunity for New York City’s M/WBEs is a top priority of the Bloomberg Administration’s economic development strategy,” Deputy Mayor Steel said. “With these new programs we will help connect even more businesses with opportunities to grow and expand, and in the process, create jobs for New Yorkers.”

“New programs are now available to minority and women-owned businesses to help small business owners win contracts with the City and grow,” said Rob Walsh, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “Helping firms team up, providing technical assistance, and helping construction firms find mentors, secure loans, and performance surety bonds, helps ensure the City provides opportunities to a diverse array of contractors, strengthening the City’s economy and creating jobs for New Yorkers.”

“Giving M/WBEs the tools they need to do business with the City is not only the fair thing to do – it’s a proven job creator, said Speaker Quinn. “Compete to Win goes even further by empowering these companies to do business with private companies as well. This is a win-win for the City. We will continue to work hard to create opportunities for the City’s M/WBEs."

“The Compete to Win program is the most ambitious set of initiatives thus far implemented by the Bloomberg administration to help businesses compete in the City’s Procurement Market, and it will greatly assist Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises with contracting opportunities, said Council Member Letitia James. “The capacity-building that will be in place creates a successful situation for all partners involved, especially the M/WBEs and the City of New York.”

“Expanding the opportunities for Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises is an essential step in creating jobs and sustaining small businesses in New York City,” said Council Member Diana Reyna. “With programs like Compete to Win, M/WBEs will gain greater and more equal access to the City’s procurement market. I applaud these efforts and look forward to working with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Deputy Mayors Cas Holloway and Robert Steel to ensure that M/WBE’s continue to receive the support that they deserve.”

“New York City is a world-class City, and it ought to have a first-class approach to M/WBE inclusion and growth,” said Reverend Jacques Andre DeGraff Chair, SCA Diversity Council and member of the Mayor’s Construction Committee. “This marks a major step forward towards achieving that goal. We are pleased to have been a part of this ongoing process.”

“The Velez Organization has been an established construction firm in New York City for over 40 years,” said Elizabeth Velez, president of the Velez Organization. “As a Minority Business Enterprise, we appreciate the essential value and critical importance of effective, fair, progressive programs which open the door to procurement opportunities for all businesses. With Compete to Win, we applaud the City of New York’s bold new step in building capacity and enhancing opportunities for MWBE firms.”

Compete to Win includes the following set of programs to help M/WBEs compete and grow:

NYC Teaming
In partnership with American Express OPEN, NYC Teaming helps firms create partnerships that allow them to bid on larger contracts or pursue new contracting opportunities. The program includes a Business Matching Event and a series of workshops leading up to that event – Joint Ventures, Marketing to Partners, and Presenting Your Teamed Firm to Buyers – which will educate firms on the teaming process and how to market to buyers and other firms. The matching event in combination with workshops will help businesses with complementary skills create matches with one another and compete for contracts. The program began last week with an event with American Express OPEN, which included approximately 80 M/WBE participants attending the first of six sessions, “Presenting Your Firm to Potential Teaming Partners.”

NYC Construction Loan
The NYC Construction Loan pilot program, which launched in December, 2011, provides short-term working capital loans from the New York Business Development Corporation to M/WBE firms in the construction sector.  The loans are designed to help fund upfront expenses of labor and equipment for M/WBEs and other small businesses awarded contracts with participating City agencies (Department of Transportation, Department of Design and Construction, Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Citywide Administrative Services, Department of Environmental Protection). Eligible firms will receive packaging assistance, pre-approval for a loan, and disbursement of funds once awarded a contract. Twenty-three firms are already in the process of applying.

Technical Assistance
The Technical Assistance program provides free workshops and one-on-one assistance to prepare firms to compete for and perform on City contracts. Workshops provide an in-depth understanding of specific industry requirements and standards for the submission of City bids and proposals. The one-on-one personalized assistance will provide firms with bid and proposal guidance on submitting offers for City contracts, as well as aiding unsuccessful bidders and proposers in evaluating their bids and proposals. The program begins with a session on how to sell products to the City taking place on Friday, February 24, 2012.

Bonding Readiness
Bonding Readiness helps small businesses, including M/WBEs, secure surety bonds for NYC construction projects. Services include: workshops on accounting and financial management, insurance requirements, safety management, credit repair, and more. One-on-one financing assistance is also available to help with credit repair, bookkeeping, application packaging, and referral to the right sureties. The program will begin in April, 2012.

NYC Construction Mentorship

The NYC Construction Mentorship program provides certified construction firms who bid on designated contracts with partnering agencies with greater access to City construction opportunities, a customized growth plan developed with a construction management firm, management classes, and on-the-job training services for contract winners. Businesses can start pre-qualifying now for contracts with Housing Preservation and Development, and Parks and Recreation. Bidding opportunities and mentoring services will be available in April, 2012. 

In addition to the new initiatives launching through Compete to Win, the following programs are also available to help M/WBEs:

Strategic Steps for Growth
With the second class graduating on February 9, 2012, Strategic Steps for Growth is a nine-month executive education program designed for M/WBEs, offered by the New York City Department of Small Business Services and the NYU Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Berkley Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. The program has provided 41 certified M/WBE businesses with a new professional network, including business experts, university professors, and other business owners, and offers support for every aspect of business operations. Participants learn the strategic skills needed to run a growing company, and create a custom, three-year growth plan. Applications for the next class are currently available. The deadline to apply is March 23, 2012.   

Corporate Alliance Program
Launched in February, 2011 the Corporate Alliance Program (CAP) is a set of programs created in partnership with 12 corporate partners to help minority and women-owned firms grow. The initiative is designed to connect certified M/WBEs with contracting and capacity-building opportunities in the private sector. CAP/Columbia University Construction Mentorship Program, Corporate Coaching Program, and Corporate Skills Training include workshops, one-on-one coaching with a senior executive from a corporation, exclusive contracting opportunities in the private sector, and more. Becoming a supplier to a large corporation adds credibility and stability to a small business while increasing revenue. It also helps strengthen supplier-diversity programs at leading institutions in the City. Participating organizations include Accenture, American Express, AXA Equitable, BNY Mellon, Citi, Colgate-Palmolive, Columbia University, Con Edison, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, IBM and National Grid.   

Services are also available through NYC Business Solutions Centers, located in all five boroughs. NYC Business Solutions is a set of services to help businesses start, operate, and expand in NYC. These services are provided at no cost to businesses of any size and at any stage. Services include: business courses, legal assistance, financing assistance, navigating government, incentives, recruiting, training employees, and M/WBE certification.

The following initiatives have also been implemented to improve compliance with M/WBE requirements:

  • Raised the bond threshold - up from $500,000 to $1 million – to help increase the universe of contractors who can compete for City construction contracts under $1 million and reduce the cost of bids.
  • Revised the bond form for contracts greater than $5 million to make it less onerous for vendors and their sureties.
  • Reduce bond requirements for other sectors by requiring agencies to get approval before adding bond requirements to a solicitation.

Improving Procurement Process and Compliance

  • Trained all agency buyers on the M/WBE program.
  • Require agency M/WBE officers will attend pre-bid meetings to inform bidders about M/WBE requirements and the Online Directory.
  • To improve transparency associated with the subcontracts awarded to M/WBEs, the City now requires prime contractors to regularly certify that they are on track to meet their M/WBE subcontracting goals.
  • Added language to contracts to set liquidated damages for prime contractors who do not make a good faith effort to meet their M/WBE subcontracting goals. 

These initiatives were first announced at the city’s annual Procurement Fair, hosted by the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) at BNY-Mellon, in May 2011.

The City's M/WBE Program was created in December 2005 when Mayor Bloomberg signed Local Law 129, which established utilization goals in prime and subcontracts by sector and by gender/ethnicity category. The program helps minority and women-owned businesses access government contracting opportunities and also provides capacity-building services. Since the program was implemented in 2006, certified M/WBEs have won more than 37,000 contracts valued at over $2.5 billion in prime and subcontracts with the City of New York.

To certify as an M/WBE, businesses must be in operation for at least one year; be at least 51% owned, operated and controlled by a woman or a member of a recognized minority group; and show a significant tie to the City's business community. For more information, visit

For more information on services available to help small businesses, particularly M/WBEs, compete and grow please visit or call 311.


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