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Op-Ed: Combat Inequality by Helping Award $16 Billion to Minority and Women-Owned Businesses

NYC small business owners: Do you want to live in a city where the local economy mirrors the vast diversity of New Yorkers? So do we, but we need your input to make this a reality. Mayor Bill de Blasio is pushing to level the playing field for minority and women-owned businesses (M/WBEs) to build a more inclusive local economy that reflects the vibrant fabric of our city. Under the mayor’s leadership, the City of New York made a bold commitment to award $16 billion in City contracts to minority and women-owned businesses by 2025.

Over the last two years alone, the percentage of contract dollars awarded to these businesses has nearly doubled and we are on track to hit 30 percent of all contract dollars by 2021. While the progress is real, there’s always room for growth. That’s why we’re calling in the experts: the small business owners with real-life experience doing business, or seeking to do business, with the City. You have the power to make our contractors look like NYC without even leaving your storefront.

The NYC Department of Small Business Services is asking small business owners to complete an online form as part of a study we commissioned to examine how the City can better utilize M/WBEs as contractors and subcontractors. We want to know where there is a disparity between the percentage of M/WBEs that exist in different industries and the percentage of M/WBEs in these industries that are receiving City contracts. We can’t close the gaps unless we know the gaps.

The disparity study will examine:

  1. The procurement of Construction, Professional Services (including Architecture and Engineering), Standard Services, and Goods for the City;
  2. The subcontracting practices of prime contractors/vendors who do business with the City;
  3. The anecdotal evidence collected from a broad cross section of minority-, women-, and non-minority-owned firms; and
  4. Minority and women-owned business participation in the private sector.

The study is being conducted through a series of community meetings, interviews, and surveys. To achieve an accurate picture, we are asking that those directly affected, including M/WBE and non-M/WBE City contractors, complete a quick online form about their contracting experiences. More information is available at cityofnydisparitystudy.com

Our online form is readily accessible in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Haitian Creole. If you are a business owner who has done business or attempted to do business with the City, I strongly encourage you to make your voice heard. Take advantage of this opportunity to inform real change by completing the online form. By doing so, you will help change City policy for the better.

Additionally, if you are an M/WBE business owner and your business is not yet certified as an M/WBE, please take advantage of this free service. We have a streamlined certification process and my team is available to guide you through it. Certified businesses obtain greater access to contracting opportunities through classes, networking events, and targeted solicitations. They receive technical assistance to better compete for contracts and benefit from inclusion in the City’s Online Directory of Certified Businesses.

Find out how you can get certified by visiting http://www.nyc.gov/getcertified or by calling 311.

Gregg Bishop is the Commissioner for the New York City Small Business Services 

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