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MWBE certifications hit fast track following agreement between Erie County, New York state

Press release

Mon, Jan 19th 2015 12:50 pm

Minority and women-owned businesses now able to quickly obtain state certifications

The Erie County Division of Equal Opportunity Employment has announced that, following a multiyear effort, a "fast track" agreement has been reached between the County of Erie and City of Buffalo Joint Certification Committee and Empire State Development that will allow expedited state certifications for minority- and women-owned business enterprises that are already certified with Erie County and the City of Buffalo.

The agreement, which enhances cooperation and improves efficiencies among the agencies through information and resource sharing, will streamline certification processes for a larger pool of qualified MWBEs. In Erie Count, there are currently 119 certified businesses owned by minorities, along with 152 certified women-owned businesses.

The latest report from Erie County's Minority and Women Business Utilization Advisory Board identifies MWBE participation with the County of Erie, Department of Public Works contracts for 2013 (including the Ralph Wilson Stadium project through July of 2014) and presents a total value amount of approximately $130.2 million. Contracts entered into with minority-owned businesses total 13.9 percent, or approximately $18.1 million, while women-owned business participation totals 14.4 percent, or approximately $18.7 million.

The Erie County Department of Environment and Planning also reports quarterly to the New York State Environmental Facilities Corp. As of September, it identified a total contract value amount of approximately $8.5 million. Here, minority-owned businesses total 10.1 percent, or $859,706 of participation, and women-owned business participation totals 8.3 percent, or $706,376. When projects receive funding from New York, Erie County is obligated to follow state goals for MWBE participation, so any opportunity for JCC-certified businesses to become state-certified supports all concerned. 

"This agreement will ease the process for MWBEs already certified here in Erie County who are seeking certification at the NYS level," Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said."This partnership with NYS will flag Erie County applicants and allow for an automatic expedite of certification requests for those who have achieved Erie County certification. This simplified process will be beneficial to both municipalities and contractors."

ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams said, "Under the governor's leadership, ESD's Division of Minority and Women's Business Development has made significant improvements to its certification process and greatly increased outreach. The fast-track agreement between Erie County and the City of Buffalo Joint Certification Committee is another example of the progress the state has made in eliminating barriers to MWBE participation in contracts and increasing opportunities for all New Yorkers."

Jesse Burnette, chair of the County of Erie and City of Buffalo Joint Certification Committee, added, "More local MWBE businesses will now have increased access to state contracts through the fast-track certification process. Working in tandem with ESD brings more information, more resources, and the ability to reach a larger potential audience for our minority- and women-owned businesses."

The certifying market covered by the fast-track agreement includes Erie County and the City of Buffalo. The agreement, which went into effect Nov. 18, will remain in effect for one year and will be automatically renewed unless one of the parties declines to do so. As JCC and ESD have similar but separate programs, receipt by an applicant of a denial letter from either party does not preclude the applicant from applying for certification from the other party.

The Empire State Development Division of Minority and Women's Business Development's mission is to promote equality of economic opportunities for MWBEs and to eliminate barriers to their participation in state contracts. Since Gov. Andrew Cuomo took office in 2011, MWBE utilization has more than doubled, increasing in fiscal year 2013-14 to 25.12 percent, well beyond the governor's goal of 20 percent, and corresponding to $1.96 billion in contracts for MWBEs.

For more information, contact ESD at [email protected].

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