On Friday, The New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the New York City Department of Education's School Construction Authority (SCA) to increase contracting and subcontracting opportunities for SCA- and City-certified minority- and women-owned business enterprises (M/WBE) and locally-based enterprises (LBE) at the SCA headquarters in Long Island City. The M/WBE program works to ensure the participation of minority- and women-owned businesses in the New York City procurement process and the LBE program helps eligible small construction and construction-related firms to do business with the City. SBS Commissioner Robert W. Walsh and SCA President and CEO William H. Goldstein were joined at the event by former New York Giant Harry Carson, Timothy Marshall of the Jamaica Business Resource Center, Lennox Britton of the New York Association of Minority Contractors, and Reverend J. A. DeGraff of 100 Black Men.
"This is another strong step in the Bloomberg Administration's commitment to increasing opportunities for M/WBE firms," said SBS Commissioner Robert Walsh. "The partnership offers access to hundreds of subcontracting opportunities through the Department of Education's School Construction Authority, yet another incentive for eligible businesses to certify with the City. It also broadens the pool of those certified and listed in our new online directory. Purchasers from the public or private sector who utilize this database, which contains comprehensive profiles of certified M/WBE's and LBE's, now have a greater variety of firms to draw from."
"The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with the New York City Department of Small Business Services makes good business sense, because it allows both the SCA and the City of New York the opportunity to develop a larger pool of qualified minority, women-owned and locally-based businesses," said William H. Goldstein, SCA President & CEO. "We anticipate that these businesses will develop into self sufficient entities with the resources and experience necessary to assist the SCA in building schools, safely, timely and cost effectively."
"President Goldstein has given my staff and me the necessary resources to develop a first class business development program that provides classroom training, technical assistance, surety bond/small business loan assistance and contracting opportunities," said Michael J. Garner, SCA Director of Business Development. "During the previous six fiscal years, the SCA has awarded more than $1.5 billion to certified minority, women-owned and locally-based business enterprises."
SBS will refer its certified M/WBEs and LBEs to SCA for surety bonding and small business loan assistance, and participation in strategic business development courses sponsored by the SCA, topics of which include bidding strategies, construction management, construction contract law, construction means and methods, estimating, marketing, project closeouts, safety, scheduling, strategic planning to build a profitable company, QuickBooks, Excel and Microsoft Word. SBS will also refer its certified locally-based business enterprises to participate SCA's Mentor and Graduate Mentor Programs.
In the past, the rigorous certification process has proven a hurdle for many small, eligible companies who lack the time and resources to complete it. The partnership with SBS allows for expedited certification between the two groups. Previously, applicants had to submit the substantial materials required in different formats to both groups. Now, SBS will accept SCA's application and vice versa. This will significantly reduce the paperwork necessary for both certifications.
City agencies and private corporations who look to do business with M/WBE firms often require third-party certification, such as that provided by SBS and SCA, to ensure the legitimacy of the companies (i.e. that a woman or a minority owns at least 51% of the company). Certification benefits minority- and women-owned businesses through better marketing of their businesses to City agencies, regional agencies and authorities, construction developers, prime contractors, and other public and private organizations. It provides increased networking opportunities and exposure to key purchasing agents, expanded information about procurement opportunities in New York City and the surrounding area, and assistance in doing business with the City and any potential partnerships it makes.
In June of 2003, Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Walsh unveiled a reenergized program for Minority- and Women-owned Businesses to help minority and women-owned businesses access contracting opportunities, better prepare them to compete for City contracts, and help them navigate the procurement process. SBS simplified certification - the process by which M/WBEs connect with the City; implemented new policies that increase bid solicitations from City agencies to M/WBEs and LBEs; developed an easy to use online directory of M/WBE and LBE firms that helps both City buyers and private entities locate qualified firms to compete for contracts; and is adding more certified companies to the City's list through cooperative working relationships with additional City/State agencies and private entities. The M/WBE and LBE Online Directory is located at www.nyc.gov/sbs. SBS also sponsors and hosts events to bring M/WBE and LBE firms together with City contracting officers, allowing them to promote their goods and services directly to buyers, and helps M/WBE and LBE companies obtain the insurance and financial backing from lending institutions they need to be a viable and stable business in New York City.