New York City is one of the most diverse metropolitans in the United States, but the business sector is whiter than ever. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer released a report indicating a paradoxical business trend. Minority and women-owned business firms are earning more city contract certifications, but more white-owned firms are cashing in on the multibillion-dollar industry.
Stringer’s office contacted 500 city-certified firms and found only 25.5 percent of minority and women-owned firms won a contract in 2012. This is disappointing progress for New York City.
“The bad news is we’re still falling short where it counts — which is getting contracts into the hands of the minority and women-owned businesses,” Stringer explained to the New York Daily News.
The New York City Council passed Local Law 129 in 2009, which created the Minority and Women-owned Businesses Enterprise (M/WBEs) Certification Program. It was designed to encourage a level playing field for minority and women-owned businesses while also boosting the city’s economy.
Local Law 129 had five core objectives:
- Reach out to eligible companies
- Simplify and facilitate certification
- Foster business growth
- Equip buyers to find certified companies
- Hold agencies accountable
All of them were met in the beginning and the program was deemed a success in 2011. M/WBEs had earned more than 4,000 contracts valued at more than $160 million. However the progress has slowed since the 2011 report was issued.
NYC’s comptroller John Liu found less than 2 percent of city contracts were awarded to M/WBEs in 2012, leading to a MWBE Report Card to gauge the percentage of contracts issued. Improvement is clear, but there’s still progress to be made.
Stringer claims these low statistics are spurred by confusing applications, an experience gap between new and experienced companies and overwhelming processes.
“The city is not doing enough to help the businesses navigate the bid process, which remains too complicated and too time consuming,” Stringer said.