Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Department of Small Business Services (SBS) Commissioner Robert W. Walsh today announced the award of a $4 million contract to a small business owner in the Bronx from the United States Department of Defense. New York Princess Knitwear Inc., a clothing manufacturer with 20 employees, won the contract to produce up to 150,000 lightweight knit jerseys a year for four years for the U.S. Navy after working with SBS's procurement outreach program. Joining the Mayor and Commissioner Walsh at the press conference held at the Princess Knitwear factory were Cynthia Petterson, President of New York Princess Knitwear Inc., Ray Salaberrios, President of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (BOEDC) and Neil Pasirer, Senior Vice President of the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (SOBRO).
"The award of this Department of Defense contract illustrates how valuable our Small Business Services' procurement assistance unit can be for small businesses trying to navigate through the sometimes daunting processes of applying and bidding for City and Federal government contracts." said Mayor Bloomberg. "I congratulate Cynthia Petterson on her winning bid and applaud SBS for assisting in making that happen. I encourage SBS and our other partners in small business to use this contract as a model for future success in helping the more than 200,000 other small businesses in our City. Companies with fewer than 100 employees make up 98% of all businesses in New York City. In essence, businesses like this one form the foundation of New York's economy, and our long-term economic prospects hinge on their success."
"This announcement is a model of how collaborations between the City and local business organizations can promote growth in the small business community. SOBRO and BOEDC were instrumental in contributing to this success," said Commissioner Walsh. "With SBS' Business Solutions Center operating out of SOBRO's offices we are building partnerships and bringing our services to the Bronx."
"We are thrilled to have been awarded the contract with the Department of Defense," said Cynthia Petterson. "This contract will allow us not only to stay in business, but will enable us to create more jobs over the next four years. It is also a boost to ensure that apparel manufacturing remains a viable business. I'd like to thank the Department of Small Business Services and it's partners for the technical assistance in preparing the bid proposal."
New York Princess Knitwear Inc. had seen a sharp decline in business following the events of September 11th and recession and was even considering closing altogether due to the drastic drop in revenues. In early 2002, Cynthia Petterson returned to SBS and its partners in the Bronx for assistance in bidding on government contracts. SBS helped Petterson register with the Federal Central Contracting Registry and other government agencies and identified the Navy sweater contract as a relevant match for her products. With the assistance of SBS, New York Princess Knitwear beat out 22 other competitors to win the contract. This contract enabled Petterson to remain open and will allow the company to add 7-10 more jobs.
Under the direction of Mayor Bloomberg, SBS has radically improved its procurement division. SBS used partnerships, new technology and personalized assistance as the framework for delivering a better success rate for the City's small businesses. SBS helped a wide range of small businesses obtain several million dollars in State and Federal contracts over the course of the year, with the recent implementation of Softshare and Business Solutions Centers sharply increasing the number of companies served. SBS' Procurement Outreach Program is the primary division for helping the City's small, minority and women-owned businesses win contracts on all levels of government. Services include one-on-one counseling for targeting relevant bidding opportunities, monthly educational classes on the contract process, assistance with locating financing, insurance and other means to ensure stability and long-term viability and networking events with City purchasing officers.
SBS continues to forge partnerships with private sector industries. In September, the Department and Turner Construction will launch an eight-week certification-training program for small, construction-related firms. The relationship is expected to open up future sub-contracting opportunities for City-certified Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE).
Petterson is currently in the process of certifying her company with New York City's newly reenergized M/WBE program. Last month, Mayor Bloomberg unveiled a 10-point plan to increase participation and improve results for New York City's minority and women business owners in the area of City procurement. The improved use of technology is a major component of the plan, as is the use of "Softshare," national bid-matching software, which helped line up Princess Knitwear with the Defense Department's sweater contract.
Other highlights of the M/WBE program include better training and individualized assistance with contract bids for M/WBEs, simplifying the certification process and the imminent launch of a new Internet-based directory that will showcase each City-certified firm. The directory will provide a detailed description of each M/WBE firm, including their profiles, work history, and information about what they sell or produce.
From an assistance standpoint SBS has provided information and direction to over 750 small businesses in 2003. SBS also attended over 65 conferences and events to inform business owners about relevant services and procurement opportunities. Since the launch of the Business Solutions center, SBS logged in nearly 1,300 calls from entrepreneurs and small businesses seeking information on how to start, finance or register a business as well as on specific program areas including M/WBE certification, procurement, cutting red tape with other city agencies, business incentives and neighborhood development.