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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 26, 2011


MAYOR BLOOMBERG, DEPUTY MAYORS GOLDSMITH AND STEEL AND SPEAKER QUINN ANNOUNCE NEW INITIATIVES TO ENHANCE AND EXPAND CITY’S MINORITY AND WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESS ENTERPRISE PROGRAM

Changes to Program Will Increase the Number of M/WBEs Competing for and Winning City Contracts

New Initiatives Will Help Eliminate Market Barriers, Streamline Purchase Processes and Improve Compliance



Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Operations Stephen Goldsmith, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel and Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn today announced a set of new initiatives to enhance and expand the City’s Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) program. The announcement was made at the City’s Fifth Annual Citywide Procurement Fair, which helps minority and women-owned companies find opportunities to do business with the City. The new initiatives, summarized below, fall into three categories: implementing programs and services to build capacity and eliminate market barriers; streamlining the purchase processes to increase opportunities; and improving procurement processes and compliance. In addition to M/WBE businesses, many of the initiatives will help all small businesses to compete for and win City contracts.

“By improving this program, we’re making it easier for minority and women-owned companies to do business with the City,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “That may sound simple, but it couldn’t be more important. These improvements will help ensure that the universe of City contractors reflects the diversity that makes our City so great.”

“New York City is committed to removing the obstacles that prevent quality minority and women-owned businesses from realizing their potential in the City’s procurement marketplace,” said Deputy Mayor Goldsmith. “M/WBE firms represent an important segment of New York City’s economy, and the policies announced today will help them build up their capacity, access crucial up-front capital, and have the information and support that they need to better compete for City contracts.”

“While New York’s economy has added jobs for eight consecutive months, unemployment remains unacceptably high. The Bloomberg Administration is committed to doing everything we can to help get New Yorkers back to work,” said Deputy Mayor Steel. “We have made tremendous progress in expanding the opportunities available to M/WBEs under Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership, and the initiatives announced today will allow us to provide even more support for this crucial segment of the economy.”

“This mentorship program will provide classroom and one-on-one training and technical assistance to work-ready, but still-emerging M/WBEs,” said Speaker Quinn. “I am certain it will provide these struggling M/WBEs with the right combination of experience and technical assistance to help them thrive in this challenging economy. I want to thank Council Member Diana Reyna, Mayor Bloomberg, Deputy Mayors Steel and Goldsmith, Marla Simpson and Commissioner Walsh for all their help on making this program work.”

“These new initiatives will greatly help women and minority business enterprises strengthen their roles as a key force in growing the City’s economy,” said Sandra Wilkin, President Emeritus of the Women Builders Council. “These new measures will help overcome many of the financial challenges we daily and allow our community to expand our capacity to do business in New York City.”

“The City is making great strides in helping minority and woman-owned businesses compete,” said Heyward Davenport, Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Minority Development Agency. “We look forward to continuing our relationship with the City to maximize our efforts to grow M/WBEs to the next level.”

Implementing Programs and Services to Build Capacity and Eliminate Market Barriers 

The City recognizes the challenges smaller firms, especially M/WBEs, competing in the City’s procurement market. Understanding the bidding process, securing new opportunities through partnerships, obtaining the bonds required on some projects, having much-needed capital to start a new project, and successfully completing a new or larger project, are all factors. The Department of Small Business Services is establishing a set of new programs and expanding some of its existing services to address these hurdles. These programs include:

· Increased bid and proposal preparation support to review bid documents, offer cost estimating guidelines, and help unsuccessful bidders understand why they didn’t win.

· For the construction industry, a bond readiness program to help firms increase bonding capacity and obtain bonds.

· Joint venture workshops that explain partnering options, legal responsibilities, and the benefits of partnering, and networking opportunities for businesses interested in entering into partnerships.

· A mobilization loan program to provide short-term working capital for firms who have been awarded City contracts.

· A mentorship program, offering classroom and on-the-job training, along with access to all the other support service available.

Streamlining the Purchase Processes to Increase Opportunities

Obtaining City contracts and delivering success allows firms to establish a track record and build capacity. With the Department of Small Business Services and the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, the City is working to streamline aspects of the procurement process in order to increase opportunities for M/WBEs and make it easier to do business with the city. These initiatives include:

· Requiring agencies to post all solicitations material on the City Record Online to centralize where opportunities may be found.

· Seeking to increase micro-purchase limits to $20,000, up from $5,000, which will provide more discretion to agencies to enter into micro contracts with M/WBEs while cutting down on time spent in the administrative solicitation and review process.

· Increasing the bond threshold – up from $500,000 to $1 million – will help increase the universe of contractors who can compete for City construction contracts under $1 million and reduce the cost of bids. The City will also revise the bond form for contracts greater than $5 million to make it less onerous for vendors and their sureties.

· For other sectors, the City is seeking to reduce bond requirements by requiring agencies to get approval before adding bond requirements to a solicitation.

· Seeking to streamline invoice processing and expedite the payment process.

Improving Procurement Process and Compliance

The City is committed to the success of the M/WBE program and is taking new steps to hold agencies as well as prime contractors accountable and improve M/WBE subcontractor utilization, tracking, and compliance. These initiatives include:

· In order to ensure that all buying decisions are informed by Local Law 129, the City will require all agency buyers to complete training covering the M/WBE program.

· To better connect prime contractors to M/WBEs, 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 will: require prime contractors to regularly certify that they are on track to meet their M/WBE subcontracting goals; require agencies to track all payments to subcontractors; and explore developing automated methods for tracking payments to subcontractors.

· The City will add 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.

Today’s Procurement Fair was hosted by the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) at BNY-Mellon, and brought more than 600 certified M/WBE firms together to network with purchasers from 72 City and State agencies and public authorities, as well as several large corporations. The opening session featured remarks from Deputy Mayor Steel, Deputy Mayor Goldsmith, City Council Member Reyna, and Con Edison Supplier Diversity Director Joy Crichlow. During the session, six awards were presented by Marla Simpson, Director of the Mayor's Office of Contract Services and City Chief Procurement Officer, and Robert Walsh, Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services.

Three firms received the M/WBE of the Year Award, which honors top-performing firms: Afax Business Machines, which focuses on the sale and service of a variety of office equipment and supplies; Eaton Electric, Inc., a premier electrical contractor; and Pina M. Inc., a provider of quality industrial, healthcare, laboratory, and safety products. The Department of Corrections and the Department of Environmental Protection received the M/WBE Agency of the Year Award for going above and beyond expectations to create opportunities for M/WBE firms, and the Department of Sanitation received the M/WBE Advocate of the Year Award for being a leader in implementing creative initiatives to further the goals of the City's MWBE program and dedicating resources to bringing special insights to the City’s capacity building programs and networking events.

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 30,000 contracts valued at over $2.1 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.
 Click here to see the Procurement Fair Brochure featuring M/WBE awardees
For more information, visit www.nyc.gov



  Contact:

Stu Loeser/Julie Wood (212) 788-2958
Sarah Krauss (SBS) (212) 618-6716
 

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