Courtesy of Sanders' office
State Senator James Sanders had his legislation expanding the state's MWBE program signed into law by Governor Cuomo.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law two pieces of legislation which reauthorizes New York state’s Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE) program and adds significant improvements developed under the leadership of state Senator James Sanders, who chairs the Senate Task Force on MWBE and sponsored the measure in the Senate.

“This legislation is a huge step to making sure that MWBEs increase capacity and have better access to state contracting,” Sanders said of the new law. “We are finally making some good progress to include groups that have historically lacked access to these resources.”

The MWBE program, which seeks to make New York’s economy more just by awarding a goal of 30 percent of state contract money to businesses owned by minorities or women, was set to expire at the end of 2019.

The re-authorization extends the program until 2024 and makes several improvements intended to aid MWBEs, including decreasing the amount of time and resources that MWBEs spend in bureaucratic processes by extending the length of MWBE certification from three to five years; increasing from $200,000 to $500,000 the amount of money that agencies and authorities can award to MWBEs at their discretion; increasing from $3.5 million to $15 million the maximum net worth that an MWBE owner can personally hold in order to be eligible for the program; authorizing the Division of MWBE to organize outreach events, training and educational opportunities for MWBE firms across the state; and establishing a Workforce Diversity Program that requires state agencies overseeing construction projects to utilize a diverse workforce.

“As the leading association that represents women in the construction industry, the reauthorization of Article 15-A was the Women Builders Council’s top priority for the 2018-2019 legislative session,” WBC Executive Director Renee Sacks said. “For the past two years, we worked in partnership with the certified small business community, industry associations and elected officials to provide feedback and tangible solutions to create a strong New York State MWBE Program. This legislation not only reauthorizes Article 15-A, it provides greater equal access to state’s contracting system and opportunities, and yields outcomes for capacity building, job creation and programmatic efficiency and sustainability.”

Improvements to the program were developed during weekly meetings that brought together MWBEs, industry groups, agency officials and clergy, including the Women Builders Council, the Alliance for New York Asian Architects and Engineers and the Building Trades Employees Association, among others.

“This MWBE legislation continues to push for a level playing field,” Sanders said, “one that will create substantial benefits in our communities. We must uplift and preserve MWBEs, because success in these businesses reflects success in New York Support for MWBEs is support for job creation, equality and the pursuit of the American dream.”

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