Queens lawmakers call on Albany to pass community hiring and MWBE bills

queens business
Mayor de Blasio calls for Albany to pass legislation on community hiring and minority and women-owned businesses to help propel an economic recovery. (QNS File photo)

Three Queens elected officials who represent some of the neighborhoods that were hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic joined Mayor Bill de Blasio in calling on state lawmakers to pass key bills for the city’s economic recovery.

Jackson Heights state Senator Jessica Ramos and Councilman Francisco Moya were among multiple lawmakers who are urging the passage of legislation that would increase opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses (MWBEs) and promote community hiring for future development projects.

The mayor is proposing legislation in Albany that would require businesses working with the city to hire low-income people, NYCHA residents and people from high poverty communities. He cited new analysis that shows community hiring would use the city’s purchasing power to create 200,000 jobs over five years.

“Throughout previous negotiations and hearings on re-zonings, I have raised concerns about the city’s existing local hiring policy,” Moya said. “After working with Deputy Mayor Thompson, this legislation will create and expand equitable opportunities to meet thousands of New Yorkers where they are so they can thrive. Your economic status, where you live, whether you’re an immigrant, veteran or a person with a disability should not hinder a person’s access to opportunities to succeed. We also need to ensure we increase opportunities for minority and women-owned business enterprises so that our recovery prioritizes the very communities that have been most impacted by COVID-19.”

MWBEs utilization rates under the de Blasio administration have increased 250 percent from 2015 to 2020, according to City Hall. MWBEs also played a critical role in the fight against COVID-19 with $890 million in spending across 500 contracts.

“As we look to rebuild and recover our economy, we must examine the ways in which our laws fell short,” said Ramos, the chair of the state Senate’s Labor Committee. “Passing legislation statewide that makes it easier for local jurisdictions to invest and support MWBEs with the tools they need to succeed is a necessary step to ensure our local communities and our small businesses come back stronger than ever.”

The mayor spoke of legislation introduced by state Senator James Sanders and Brooklyn Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte-Hermelyn, calling it an opportunity to ensure MWBEs have the tools they need to succeed in the new economy.

“MWBEs were hit especially hard during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Sanders said. “My bill S.6270-A, along with its Assembly companion bill A.7266, sponsored by Assembly member Bichotte-Hermelyn, will expand opportunities for MWBEs at this critical time of need and give them a fighting chance.”

The mayor said that in order for the economic recovery to reach all New Yorkers changing laws and policies will be necessary.

“A recovery for all of us means our economy is working for everyone, including minority and women-owned businesses and New Yorkers in underserved communities,” de Blasio said. “We’re calling on Albany to pass Community Hiring and the MWBE Opportunity Expansion Act, greatly expanding economic opportunity for those too often left behind.”