Assembly Passes Legislation to Reform New York State's MWBE Program

Speaker Carl Heastie, Governmental Operations Committee Chair Michele Titus, and Oversight of Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE) Subcommittee Chair Rodneyse Bichotte today announced the passage of legislation to renew and expand New York State’s MWBE Program.

“With New York’s MWBE program set to expire this year, the Assembly Majority is committed to continuing to support minority- and women-owned business enterprises here in our great state,” said Speaker Heastie. “New York has always worked toward leveling the playing field for underrepresented communities. Minority and women entrepreneurs are critical generators of jobs and innovation in our communities, and should be able to access the same opportunities as non-minority owned businesses.”

“Expanding opportunities for MWBEs will continue to be a priority in New York State,” said Assemblymember Titus. “Socially and economically disadvantaged businesses like many owned and operated by minorities and women have been continuously overlooked. Supporting these businesses means investing in our economy, communities and equal opportunity for all New Yorkers.”

“The MWBE program strengthens our economy while ensuring that minority and women owned businesses are given the opportunity to partake in New York’s procurement contracts,” said Assemblymember Bichotte. “By increasing the personal net worth threshold to $15 million, implementing a streamlined certification process, and increasing the discretionary spending threshold to $500,000, the participation level of MWBEs will increase substantially with a direct positive economic impact.”

Legislation passed today (A.8414, Bichotte) would amend the current New York State MWBE Program to include:

  • Increasing the “Personal Net Worth” cap from $3.5 million to $15 million, thereby minimizing an unnecessary barrier to participation while also allowing for regulations to raise the cap above $15 million on an industry by industry basis;
  • Requiring contractors to make a good faith effort to retain an MWBE subcontractor before they are able to apply for a waiver;
  • Requiring waivers to be reported quarterly at a minimum, and in some cases monthly, to the Division of MWBE;
  • Requiring waivers to be posted on the websites of contracting agencies to promote greater transparency;
  • Requiring increased annual reporting by the State Division of MWBE and the contracting agencies regarding expenditures by the state that are exempt from program goals, four year growth plans by agencies, annual participation rates for each agency, total number of MWBEs in the reporting year, and total dollar value spent on MWBE contracts and subcontracts;
  • Establishing new goals for the program based on the results of the 2016 disparity study;
  • Increasing the period of time that businesses are certified from three to five years;
  • Increasing the discretionary threshold from $200,000 to $500,000;
  • Requiring contracting agencies to establish four year growth plans regarding the utilization of MWBEs;
  • Authorizing the Division of MWBE to establish outreach events, training seminars and educational opportunities throughout the state; and
  • Establishing a “Workforce Diversity Program” which would require state agencies doing construction projects to meet aspirational goals for a diverse workforce.

Another bill (A.8407, Bichotte) would help support MWBEs in New York City by making the following updates to the New York City MWBE Program:

  • Allowing agencies to make procurements of goods and services for up to $500,000 from MWBEs without a formal competitive bidding process;
  • Adding a firm’s status as an MWBE to the criteria that may be used in creating a pre-qualified procurement list;
  • Creating a small business and MWBE mentorship program in the New York City Department of Design and Construction; and
  • Enhancing the ability of MWBEs to compete for contracts with both New York City schools and the School Construction Authority.

Today’s measures will help increase participation, decrease the effects of discrimination, assist in capacity building and bring about changes to the MWBE Program informed by robust disparity studies conducted by the State and City of New York. With these measures in place, New York will continue to enable minority and women business owners to create the jobs and opportunities the state so desperately needs.