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November 16, 2016

First DDC “Ready to Build” Workshops Help Small and Emerging Firms Compete for Public Projects

Boost to Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises

Ian Michaels
Executive Director of Public Information

Long Island City, NY – The first series of New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) “Ready to Build” workshops designed to help small and emerging construction contractors compete for and receive contracts for public sector construction completed this morning at DDC headquarters in Queens

DDC’s “Ready to Build” program kicked off in March 2016 with the first two-hour workshop entitled “Are You Ready?” which guided participating firms through the certification and pre-qualification requirements on their way to developing a public sector business plan. Subsequent workshops included instruction on identifying projects to bid on; estimating construction costs accurately; preparing and submitting bids in compliance with DDC requirements; best practices for managing construction projects; and managing payments and contract change orders.

K.A. Stacie Alexiou, CEO and Managing Director of Watt + Flux, a women-owned business that specializes in energy management services and LED lighting conversions for ships and buildings, attended “Ready to Build” after the NYC Department of Small Business Services recommended the program to her to help learn the processes to earn City contracts.

“We haven’t worked for the City before but there are many City agencies where our firm’s works fits very well,” said Ms. Alexiou. “Being introduced to key decision makers from behind the scenes and learning what their job entails helps me understand how I need to shape my process. These workshops give you a starting point to understand where your competencies are. I would absolutely recommend them to other contractors and MWBEs looking to work with the City. It’s a great time to be a MWBE. If you’re willing to do the footwork the City has really put the resources out there.”

Entry into the “Ready to Build” program was limited to construction contractors with average annual revenues over the last three years of less than $3 million. Over 200 firms applied to participate in the program and 49 were selected, with the majority qualifying as Minority- or Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs). Workshops were led by DDC professionals as well as representatives from the NYC Department of Small Business Services and professionals from the private sector. There were nine monthly workshops in all.

“Because of the need to account for public funds, the City’s contracting process can be complex, but it’s important for emerging firms to understand how to compete so we can have a more equitable City and also increase competition in today’s very busy construction market,” said DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora. “New and smaller firms, including MWBEs, also bring a creativity and energy that helps us deliver the highest quality public projects. We are very pleased to work with the Department of Small Business Services to educate and advise them.”

participants in ‘Ready to Build’
DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora (rear center) and DDC Chief Diversity & Industry Relations Officer Maggie Austin (seated center) with some of the participants in ‘Ready to Build’

“The ‘Ready To Build’ program offers training and support to help smaller construction contractors, including many women and minority owned firms, compete for public contracts,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “One of New York City’s greatest strengths is its diversity, and the City is fully committed to providing all small business owners with a level playing field so that our contractors reflect this rich diversity.”

“DDC uses a holistic approach to increase contracting opportunities for MWBEs with a comprehensive plan that strengthens and supports MWBEs as they navigate the City procurement process,” said Maggie Austin, DDC Chief Diversity and Industry Relations Officer. “We’ve created a suite of programs to ensure MWBEs are equipped with the tools to do business with us, including our ‘Ready to Build’ New York City business development program that helps MWBEs grow by becoming prequalified to work with DDC.”

Firms seeking information on future “Ready to Build” programs can contact Ms. Eriam Villalona at DDC at 718-391-1384 or by email at

Download the “Ready to Build” 2016 program bulletin here from the DDC website (PDF).

About the NYC Department of Design and Construction
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s lenses of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, new or upgraded roadways, sewers, water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $15 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative, and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to city projects. For more information, please visit