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Governor Cuomo Announces Certification of More Than 2,100 New Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises

Exceeds Goal Established in January 2016 to Increase Certification by 2,000 MWBEs; Milestone Achieved in 22 Months

Governor Cuomo recently announced that New York State has certified 2,123 minority and women-owned businesses, exceeding the goal established in his State of the State Address two years ago. This objective was achieved within 22 months, the fastest this milestone has been achieved to date, reflecting the State's efforts to streamline and expedite the certification process and maximize access to the benefits of MWBE certification. Under the Governor's leadership, more than 6,600 MWBEs have been newly certified since 2011. The New York State Directory of Certified Firms currently has over 8,500 certified firms, and is one of the largest listings in the nation of MWBE firms ready, willing and able to perform on public contracts.

"Diversity and opportunity are critical to a vibrant and growing economy, and these goals are vital to our efforts to support the business community," Governor Cuomo said. "MWBE certification opens doors and generates opportunities for businesses across the state, and this momentum will continue to ensure that these businesses are fully represented in the Empire State."

Governor Cuomo has set the nation's highest goal for the utilization of MWBEs on New York State contracts at 30 percent and under his leadership, the rate of utilization has increased nearly every year since 2011. For the 2016-2017 Fiscal Year, the rate of MWBEs participating in State contracts increased to 27.2 percent, totaling more than $2.2 billion in State contracts. This rate of utilization not only reflects the highest percentage of State contracts awarded to MWBEs in the nation, but also the largest dollar value of contracts awarded.

ESD President, CEO, and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "New York State's robust MWBE program makes our economy stronger by fostering access and capacity across the board. This milestone is a testament to our commitment, and we will continue our work to ensure entrepreneurs and small businesses have the tools and resources they need to succeed."

To further support New York State's MWBEs, in 2017 the Governor announced the launch of the MWBE Business Growth Accelerator and Certification Assistance programs, designed to increase capacity and ensure MWBE participation in State contracting. These new initiatives support the growth and momentum of MWBEs across the state and are well underway to delivering services.

The NYS MWBE Business Growth Accelerator Program creates an opportunity for participating MWBEs to receive intensive technical assistance and business development training through selected local providers with demonstrated experience in serving this business community. Three grant recipients selected by New York State to partner in this initiative have been tasked with implementing an 18-month program that includes seminars and individualized one-on-one business development assistance to participating MWBEs, with efforts focused on areas where there is a collective need for standard business acumen. Grantees will partner with local industry experts in delivering support and training on a range of business topics, including marketing, finance, contracting, and sales - tailored to the capacity needs of each participating MWBE firm.

The NYS MWBE Certification Assistance Program will provide support to firms seeking NYS MWBE Certification and will allow firms to work directly with the grantees through one-on-one sessions to identify any deficiencies in their MWBE certification application that may affect the timeliness and ultimate certification decision by Empire State Development's Division of Minority and Women's Business Development.

These initiatives build on the plethora of tools, resources, and capacity-building opportunities that New York State offers the MWBE community, including:

Bridge to Success Loan Program: In March 2014, Governor Cuomo launched the "Bridge to Success" loan program to invest at least $20 million to expand access to short term bridge loans for New York State Certified MWBEs. The goal of the State's investment was to provide the qualified MWBEs the short-term support they needed to access up to $100 million in State contracts. Three years later, the State has already exceeded that goal, with 106 loans totaling just over $16 million supporting over $134 million in contracts for New York State MWBEs. More information is available here.

New York State Surety Bond Assistance Program: In February 2012, Governor Cuomo launched the New York State Surety Bond Assistance Program, which provides technical and financial assistance to help MWBEs and small businesses secure surety bonding. Since the program launched, more than 469 MWBEs and small businesses have graduated from bond readiness training and MWBEs represent $26.65 million in bonding capacity as a result of New York State training, credit facilitation, and surety bond collateral support. More information is available here.

Regional Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises Opportunities Expo Series: Sponsored by Empire State Development's Division of Minority and Women's Business Development and local State partners, the annual MWBE Opportunities Expo Series features workshops and panel discussions about New York State MWBE certification and business development resources. It will include the New York State MWBE BOOT CAMP, which links regional technical assistance resources to MWBEs, such as the Small Business Development Center, Procurement & Technical Assistance Centers and the Entrepreneurial Assistance Program. The Expos also include information about state-sponsored financial and technical assistance programs and will be held in every region of New York State in 2018. More information is available here.