ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The seventh annual statewide Minority and Women-owned business enterprise forum was held on Wednesday and Thursday.
The forum brought more focus on the growing number of women and minority enterprises participating in state contracts.
“Now those doors are open, those firms have opportunities,” Alphonso David, Counsel to Governor Andrew Cuomo, said.
When the Minority and Women Owned business enterprise, or MWBE, was started in 2011, only around ten percent of the state contracts were given to minority and women-owned businesses. Now, it has grown to 27 percent and almost reaches the 30 percent goal Governor Cuomo set in 2014.
“The reason why that is is because we have removed barriers,” David said.
“People thought that women and minority businesses didn’t exist or that there just wasn’t the competent capacity out there,” K.A. Stacie Alexiou, CEO and Managing Director of LEED AP BD&C, said. “The state is doing a great job in saying if you’re out there and you’re a woman or a minority and you can do the job then we want to give you the tools to be able to come to the table and compete for it.”
Gov. Cuomo also announced at the MWBE forum the launch of a MWBE Advisory Council that will be comprised of business owners, former legislators, and more.
“Will help us remove any additional barriers that may exist to help minorities and to help women,” David said.
More than 100 local and state agencies are here on Thursday at the forum that have invested interest in seeing the MWBE program grow.
“When we work on state contracts we have to fulfill a 30 percent requirement. So thirty percent of our subs have to be MWBE,” Tom Lamb, worker for GPI with offices in Binghamton, Buffalo, and Albany, said.
As Lamb explains, even though it can be challenging for businesses to find qualified women and minorities to fill this 30 percent goal in the workplace, it is still worth it.
“Diversity is a very important part of our lives. It’s an important part of business and I think it’s very important for us to join that.”
Since 2011 more than $10 billion in state contracts have gone to minority and women-owned business.