Albany touts advances of MWBEs, new support

Lining up: Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises earned more than a quarter of all state contracts in FY2016-17.

Good news to help you celebrate National Women’s Small Business Month: The percentage of Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises among the private businesses holding New York State contracts is on the rise.

The utilization rate for MWBEs participating in state contracts increased to 27.2 percent during the 2016-17 fiscal year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office announced this week, with companies owned by minorities and women winning more than $2.2 billion in state-sanctioned work.

New York’s MWBE utilization rate, which has increased every year since 2011, is now “higher than ever before,” according to Cuomo, who boasted the Empire State “leads the nation in our efforts to strengthen a diverse, inclusive economy.”

“We know that our economy is strongest when everyone is empowered to participate,” the governor said in a statement. “Which is why we continue to work to increase access and opportunities to success for MWBEs.”

With his administration setting a goal of a 30 percent MWBE state-contract utilization rate, Cuomo also announced a number of initiatives designed to keep the minority- and women-owned momentum going.

The governor announced the creation of the state’s first MWBE Advisory Council, tasked with advancing “innovative legislative, regulatory and administrative recommendations designed to increase MWBE capacity, certification and utilization,” according to Cuomo’s office.

The advisory council consists of more than a dozen government, industry and nonprofit leaders, including representatives of the National Urban League, the New York State Environmental Facilities Corp. and the New York & New Jersey Minority Supplier Development Council.

Cuomo also noted MWBE funding through the state’s Business Growth Accelerator Program, with three grantees – the Women’s Enterprise Development Center in White Plains, Syracuse University’s South Side Innovation Center and the Business Outreach Center Network Inc. in New York City – winning funding for “intensive technical assistance and business-development training.”

And the governor announced the launch of the state’s MWBE Certification Assistance Program, with two grant recipients – Albany law firm Towne, Ryan & Partners and Hofstra University – supporting companies with their MWBE certification applications to Empire State Development’s Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development.