“Good morning, everyone.
“It’s a pleasure to be surrounded by so many fellow business owners. I know that the economic downturn has challenged everyone here. And that’s why we’re working so hard to strengthen our small businesses, and invest in our city’s future.
“A big part of that work is ensuring that everybody has an opportunity to compete for City contracts. That’s what today’s event is really all about.
“Earlier this year, our Administration launched a Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan to pull our City’s economy out of the recession as quickly as possible and create and preserve some 400,000 jobs over the next six years.
“Your businesses are key to helping us realize those goals. In manufacturing, in construction, in retailing and in so many other industries, your businesses can create jobs for those hardest hit by the recession. You hire New Yorkers. You buy from New Yorkers. And you serve New Yorkers. We want you to succeed. And that’s why we’ve worked to overhaul the City’s M/WBE program – and make it a more effective tool to help your businesses compete for and win City contracts.
“In 2005, we institutionalized that commitment by establishing a law which set targets for M/WBE participation in City procurement. We knew back then that those targets were ambitious, and that it would take some time – and a lot of work – before we could begin meeting them.
“But I’ve always believed in setting the bar high. And although we still have a long way to go, I’m pleased to report that we’ve made significant progress.
“For instance, we’ve been able to certify a record number of businesses: there are 2,200 M/WBEs today, compared to 760 early in our Administration. Together, those businesses have received close to $900 million in contracts over the past two and a half years. And in certain areas, such as construction subcontracting, City agencies have made excellent progress in awarding M/WBE contracts that approach the participation goals outlined in 2005.
“It’s also worth noting that the businesses that participated in the first two Citywide Procurement fairs were awarded nearly 4,300 contracts totaling more than $58 million. That shows that events like this really do make a difference. They provide invaluable opportunities to learn about City contracting and to meet the staff at our agencies face to face.
“Commissioner Rob Walsh and his team at our Department of Small Business Services have done a terrific job of putting this fair together, and I encourage you to make the most of the day.
“I’d also like to tell you about two more ways we’re working to help your businesses compete for City contracts.
“First, we just amended the City’s contracting rules to make it easier for M/WBEs to compete for contracts under $100,000 – which make up nearly 44 percent of the contracts covered by the M/WBE program. For small purchases such as these, agencies solicit bids from a short list of vendors, randomly drawn from the Citywide bidders list.
“A few years ago, we took steps to ensure access for M/WBEs, by guaranteeing that for every five vendors that were randomly drawn, the software would also generate five M/WBE vendors. But, as we looked at the results, we realized that even though M/WBEs made up 50 percent of the bids – they were not winning anything close to 50 percent of the contracts. That’s because the old system allowed agencies to add extra vendors to their random lists. And too often those extra vendors won.
“A rule change that just took effect this month prevents agencies from adding their own vendors and requires them to choose among the randomly-drawn list – half of which will be M/WBEs. This will ensure objectivity and compel agencies to do business with companies that are new to them and can supply quality goods and services at competitive prices. And it will help new competitors, particularly M/WBEs, get that first opportunity to do business with the City.
“The second way we’re going to continue strengthening our M/WBE program is by making our agencies more publically accountable for their progress. The Mayor’s Office of Contract Services already tracks the progress of M/WBE contracts and reports back to the City Council bi-annually.
“Now, we’re going to increase transparency even further by publishing these results on easy-to-read score cards that will be available on the agencies’ websites this fall. Every City agency that contracts for goods and services will be evaluated in key categories, such as micro purchases, small purchases, and sub-contracts. And every member of the public will be able to see whether or not the agencies are meeting the M/WBE participation goals in these areas.
“In addition to these new reforms, we will continue to work with the M/WBE advisory board. The board is made up of leading business men and women from a broad range of industries – and together we will do everything we can to help you succeed.
“Because your growth strengthens our city’s economy. And it continues to show that the spirit of enterprise that has always pushed our city forward and that has helped New Yorkers of every ethnic group pursue the American dream is alive and well.
“That spirit is what fills me with optimism about our City’s future. I know we face some tough challenges on the road ahead, but we’ve been through tough times before – and we’ve come out stronger than ever. Now we’re going to do it again.
“Thank you so much for being here today. Enjoy the rest of the fair.”