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Expanded Discretionary Purchasing for MWBEs

One of the most important things to be aware of for MWBEs is what’s happening in politics!

The loss of a political party or an unexpected law can change everything for small minority and women-owned businesses, for good or for bad. But thankfully, I have some good political news for a change! Two pieces of legislation that passed the New York State Legislature back in June and July, and they mean very, very good things for all MWBEs across the state!

What’s the Good News?

The New York State Legislature recently passed A.8414, a bill that amended the previous New York State MWBE program. It expanded and strengthened MWBE programs, creating expanding opportunities for MWBEs. Here are some of the key parts of the legislation:

  • The “Personal Net Worth” cap is being increased from $3.5 million to $15 million. It even allows regulators to raise the cap above $15 million on an industry-by-industry basis.
  • Waivers must now be reported quarterly at a minimum. There are certain cases where they must be reported monthly to the Division of MWBE.
  • Contractors must now make a genuine effort to retain MWBE subcontractors before applying for a waiver.
  • Waivers must be posted on websites of contracting agencies to promote a greater level of transparency.
  • New goals will be established for the statewide MWBE program based on the results of a 2016 disparity study.
  • The discretionary threshold will be increased from $200,000 to $500,000.
  • Businesses can now be certified for five years, up from three years previously.
  • Contracting agencies must establish four-year growth plans that require the utilization of MWBEs.
  • A “Workforce Diversity Program” will be established that requires state agencies doing construction programs to meet goals to increase diversity within their workforce.

Obviously, all of this is fantastic news, but it doesn’t end there! In July, Gov. Cuomo signed A08407, a bill that made some significant updates to New York City’s MWBE program. Some of these changes include:

  • MWBEs can now compete for contracts with both New York City schools and the School Construction Authority.
  • Agencies can now make procurements of goods and services up to $500,000 from MWBEs without a formal competitive bidding process.
  • A firm’s status as an MWBE can now be used in creating a pre-qualified procurement list.
  • A small business and MWBE mentorship program will be created at the New York City Department of Design and Construction.

While these new opportunities are welcome, they also change the playing field a bit for MWBEs. If you want to keep on top of every development, I highly encourage you to check out the free MWBE courses at the NYC Department of Small Business Services and the events held at Jean Kristensen Associates. They’re all free to attend, but they do fill up quickly, so sign up if you want to find out how you can further increase the opportunities for your MWBE!

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