Working For You: Expanding Economic Opportunities for Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises

Every year, the City of New York invests billions of dollars to construct affordable housing, parks, and new schools in our communities. These are also investments in the people that build them.

When I started as President of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) last summer, I had one major goal: making sure that government is not just creating buildings, but that we are investing in opportunities for people in every part of the City. One way to meet that goal is by investing in minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs).

Through the first half of the 20th century, government contracts to the private sector not only built much of New York’s vital infrastructure, but also helped to establish many of the nation’s strongest companies, many of which remain reliable sources of expertise and services to the public sector today.

Today, it’s our goal to make sure that the builders, carpenters, electricians, and plumbers that build New York City’s future, represent and look like the people that make up this City.

That’s why Mayor de Blasio initiated a major reformation of the City’s MWBE contracting policy, including a goal of awarding $16 billion in MWBE contracts within a decade. And it’s why we at NYCEDC offer programs that help companies cover upfront project costs, teach companies how to learn about and apply for city projects, structure a budget, manage finances, and more. We’ve even set up a way for companies to prequalify for City contracting so that we can come to them when opportunities arise.

While there’s much more work to do, our efforts have already demonstrated results.

Take, for example, MetroCity Group, a plumbing company that grew rapidly after participating in our MWBE programs. The company’s owner, Carlos Jaramillo, started out repairing small-scale residential and commercial properties. He took part in our Money Matters and Blueprint to Success programs and went on to receive a small loan from us to enhance MetroCity’s capacity. After getting fast-track MWBE certification with NYCEDC, Carlos signed a $7.6m contract to work on the Second Avenue Subway project, and expanded from 1 to 20 employees.

Meanwhile, a number of major recent NYCEDC projects have been awarded to minority or women-owned developers who have the track records to deliver these projects.

In the months ahead, we’ll be doing much more to support the City’s minority and women-owned businesses. To start, I urge small businesses to look to the City for partnership. Sign up for our vendor, contracting, or RFP lists for opportunities you’d like to get involved in. Remember that we work for you. We are committed to making sure that every dollar we spend is an investment in opportunity.

-Maria Torres-Springer  is the President and CEO of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC).