New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that lets New York City offer more opportunity to Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises by expanding the contract process to put the city closer to par with the state.
Under the new legislation, the city can now spend up to $150,000 on contracts with MWBEs that offer goods and services without making them first go through a long and formal RFP and bidding process.
The city’s current discretionary limit on these contracts rose to $150,000 from $20,000 and now almost matches the state’s $200,000 limit.
“For a long time, minority and women-owned businesses have gone through what can at times be a lengthy process for city contracts," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "Today, after strong advocacy by members of my Administration, members of the state legislature, advocacy groups, and countless MWBEs, the state has expanded economic opportunity for MWBEs by easing the burden of the time-consuming, bidding process for small purchases – a process that can hinder an owner’s ability to stay focused on growing and sustaining their business. This new authority will mean less time focused on bureaucratic paperwork and more time focused on expanding business. The city’s ability to consider a business’ status as an MWBE – as well as their history of complying with existing labor standards – when awarding many contracts will truly level the playing field for MWBEs.”
Cuomo signed the bill on Dec. 29, after the state Assembly had passed it by a vote of 115 to 15; the state Senate vote for it was unanimous at 63 to 0. Since the legislation pertains to a city program, there is no fiscal impact to the state.
The law also lets the city consider a firm’s status as an MWBE when using the best value procurement method. Under this method, the city can judge a bidder's record of complying with existing labor standards, maintaining harmonious labor relations, and protecting the health and safety of workers.
“At the end of the day, this is an economic development program and a jobs program,” Jonnel Doris, the Director of the City’s Office of MWBEs, told The Bond Buyer last month. “We want MWBEs to have a fair shot in doing business with the city.”
Earlier this year, de Blasio created the Contract Financing Loan Fund, which lets MWBEs apply for low-interest contract financing loans of up to $500,000. The mayor also aims to double the number of MWBEs certified by the Department of Small Business Services to 9,000 by 2019 from the current 4,500.
"I would like to thank our legislative leaders in both houses and countless supportive legislators, especially our bill sponsors, State Senator Alcántara and Assembly Member Hyndman, for passing the bill, and I thank the Governor for signing it into law. With this legislation, we recognize that when all New Yorkers – regardless of race, gender or ethnicity – have the tools and resources they need to thrive, the city as a whole reaps the benefits of their economic success,” de Blasio said.