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The Fate of the MWBE Program (Article 15a)

Written by Tunisha W. Walker, Senior Vice President, Capalino+Company

On October 4, 2017, I had the opportunity to attend the New York State MWBE Forum in Albany, New York. This year, over 2,000 businesses, entrepreneurs, and government officials attended the Forum, which is New York State’s largest annual business event. The Forum’s programming, developed around the theme “Transformation 2017: ENGAGE, EMPOWER, ELEVATE”, informed MWBEs of the strategies and resources available to win State contracts and grow their businesses.

Throughout the Forum, state officials shared information on the progress of the MWBE program, known as Article 15a. Alphonso David, Counsel to Governor Cuomo, announced that New York State has hit 27.2% participation, not far off from the 30% target. Currently, there are 8,000+ certified MWBEs in the State program, with $2.2 billion in State contracts going to those firms. These successes are a huge accomplishment for the State, bolstering the administrations status as a leader in MWBE assistance.

There were, however, some important concerns presented at the Forum as well.  Unfortunately, this MWBE program is set to expire in 2018.

What Does This Mean for MWBEs?

With the State so close to reaching its 30% goal, ending this initiative could have devastating implications for MWBEs. There is a critical need for MWBEs to assist the State with its overall mission of creating a diverse and inclusive economy.

The future success of the State’s MWBE program depends on the following:

  • Increasing the number of MWBEs that are getting certified in various industries;
  • Increasing the number of MWBEs that are receiving State Contracts as subcontractors for private and public sector projects;
  • Increasing the number of MWBEs that are receiving contracts from state agencies as prime vendors;
  • The success rate of MWBEs graduating from the program and being identified as Prime Contractors;
  • The reporting of noncompliance issues by a contractor and disputes that are facing MWBEs to the State;
  • The reporting of areas within the program that are being overlooked by the State;
  • MWBEs understanding that the MWBE program is just that, a program and that their business success depends on them graduating from the program;
  • Non-MWBE companies complying with the rules and regulations for utilizing MWBEs for their State projects and not using waivers or the excuse that “they could not find MWBEs to perform the task.”

A Call to Action for MWBEs

  • Talk to your State Assembly Members and Senators, on both sides of the isle, and promote the need for the State MWBE program;
  • Become certified and let businesses know that you are available to do work as a subcontractor, as a supplier and through joint ventures;
  • Report any issues or disputes that have occurred performing work on contracts;
  • Participate in networking opportunities and forums hosted by State agencies;

Without the MWBE Program, MWBEs will be left without a seat at the table and will be unable to demonstrate their capabilities and capacity for doing business. Businesses will no longer be asked to include MWBEs as subcontractors on their projects, which would leave MWBEs and their communities out of the State procurement landscape. I encourage all businesses, both MWBEs and non-MWBEs, to carefully consider the immense value of the program to New York and to take steps that will ensure its future.

Tunisha WalkerThe MWBE Consulting Group is dedicated to ensuring that all efforts are being made for the continuation of the MWBE program. For more information, contact us at mwbeconnectny@capalino.com.

If you are an MWBE seeking to do business with the City or State, or a non-MWBE seeking assistance with fulfilling MWBE goal requirements, contact the Tunisha W. Walker at tunisha@capalino.com

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