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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 10, 2008


CITY OF NEW YORK AND COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY FACILITIES ANNOUNCE LANDMARK PROGRAM TO PROVIDE MINORITY AND WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESSES WITH TRAINING,ASSISTANCE, AND ACCESS TO COLUMBIA CONTRACTING OPPORTUNITIES

Pilot program will foster the growth of minority and women-owned contractors and give them exclusive opportunities to bid on University projects

The New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) and Columbia University Facilities today launched a mentorship program designed to help minority and women-owned businesses build their capacities and access contracting opportunities. The one-year pilot program will provide twenty-two construction businesses certified with the City as minority or woman-owned with a free series of six courses to learn about managing the full project life-cycle, exclusive opportunities to bid among themselves for designated contracts with the University, and guidance in bidding on projects and meeting the requirements of awarded contracts.

"This innovative program marks the first time that the City has partnered with a private university to give minority and women-owned businesses a complete program of education, assistance, and access to help them realize their full potentials," said Robert Walsh,Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services. "Each of the participating firms was selected because they have the resources and performance history to do this type of work. With the right tools and relationships, we believe they will succeed."

The classroom training offered in Fundamentals in Construction Management is a series of free courses that SBS began offering to certified minority and women-owned businesses at New York City College of Technology in February 2007. Businesses can also receive free guidance in creating bids and estimating costs through Breaking New Ground, another SBS program, which helps certified companies through the bidding and initial contracting process. Columbia University will sponsor and host the training in classrooms on its Morningside Heights campus and designate knowledgeable staff to mentor participants who have been awarded contracts, so they succeed in each project.

"This program's unique combination of classroom training, one-on-one assistance, and contracting opportunities will help these businesses achieve greater success in bidding and performing on larger, more complex projects," said Joe Ienuso, Executive Vice President of Columbia University Facilities. "The University is excited to partner with SBS to enhance our commitment to the growth of the City's minority, women-owned and locally-based businesses."

Columbia University has a 25 percent minority, women-owned and locally-based (MWL) businesses goal on all construction contracts. From 2002 to 2005, more than $112 million - about 36 percent - of Columbia's major construction contracts went to MWL firms. In 2006, Columbia contracted for more than $65 million in small construction projects and repair and maintenance services with MWL firms - more than one-third of the total spending for these purposes.

The Department of Small Business Services' Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) Program helps certified businesses access City contracting opportunities and build capacity. To certify with the Program, 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 be located or have a substantial business presence in the NYC metro area. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/getcertified.



  Contact:
Kara Alaimo (212)513-6318
Victoria Benitez (Columbia) (212) 854 6732
vbenitez@columbia.edu
 

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