In 1988, New York State created the Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise Program, which ensures minority participation in State purchasing and contracting, and provides community-based management training targeted to minorities and women starting new businesses.
In the 16 years since the founding of the program, the State has seen a great deal of its population gains come by the way of immigration from Latin America and South Asia, and business opportunities for women and minorities already here have profoundly increased.
That said, while minority and women owned businesses comprise about half of all small businesses in this State, these companies do less than 10 percent of the State’s business. New York State spends some $10 billion annually on contracts for goods, services and construction. Clearly, 10 percent is not enough.
That’s why I was pleased to support legislation strengthening and extending the Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises Program, commonly referred to as Article 15-A.
Senate Bill 5684, whose chief sponsor is Senator Ada L. Smith, Chair of the Senate Minority Conference, extends the program until 2018, and adds the Urban Development Corporation and its subsidiaries under Article 15-A.
Senate Bill 2697 requires that state agencies and departments that do more than $2 million in state service and construction contracts, report biannually to the State Legislature, the Governor, the State Department of Economic Development and the State Office of General Services regarding the progress of that entity in awarding contracts to small businesses and minority and women owned businesses.
These reports will enable us to examine whether current practices are making progress, or if more needs to be done. In addition, the legislation calls for agencies to maintain a list of certified minority and women owned businesses in New York State. The agencies will mail notices to listed businesses explaining the opportunities for the businesses to sell services and provide construction services to that agency.
I’d like to take this opportunity to inform minority and women business owners who are not listed with the state that it is easy to do so. Simply call 1-800-STATE-NY for more information, or visit Empire State Development’s Division of Minority and Women Owned Business Development website at: http://www.nylovesbiz.com  /Small_and_Growing_Businesses/mwbe.asp
At the website you can learn more about what the Division has to offer, review Article 15-A of the Executive law, and even search the Division’s directory of the Minority and Women Owned Businesses.
In the 15 years that the Minority and Women Owned Business Program has existed, we have made great progress in ensuring that those businesses traditionally under represented in contract opportunities begin to receive those opportunities. However, there is much progress to be made. I am hopeful that the next 15 years will bring even greater success to our efforts.