Hon. Betty Jean Grant, Chair of the Erie County Legislature, Legislator of the 2nd District, has released an annual report of the Minority and Women Business Enterprise Committee of which Legislator Grant is the Chairperson.
The report references the first meeting of the Committee on February 28, 2012. There would be another seven meetings of this standing committee. Members of the Committee, Hon. Lynn M. Marinelli, vice- chair, other voting members, Hon. Timothy R. Hogues, Minority Leader John J. Mills, and Hon. Lynne M. Dixon.
In the past year 24 experts, County Officials and Advocates would appear before the Committee in the Legislative Chambers. Over 200 citizens of Erie County will sit in the proceedings. One example of the initiatives that come from the Committee is the “Erie County Open for Business Seminar” which was held on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at the Frank E. Merriweather Library. Over 200 participants attended the event in which several County Officials entertained questions from local businesses regarding procurement, professional services, and contracting opportunities.
Another example from the annual report lists the creation of the Minority and Women Business Enterprise Utilization Advisory Board, which was convened by Erie County Executive, Hon. Mark C. Poloncarz on December 3, 2012. Many notable Business Leaders accepted appointments to the board as follows: Susan McCartney - Buffalo State College SBDC, Edward Watts, Jr. - Buffalo Niagara Partnership, Lynn Marie Finn- Buffalo Niagara Partnership, Twiggs Seymore, Jr. - WNY Black Chamber of Commerce, Charley H. Fisher III - Erie County Legislature, Vallie Ferraraccio - Erie County Department of Purchase, Sawrie Becker - Erie County Commission on the Status of Women, Jesse L. Burnette - Erie County Division of Equal Employment.
There are essentially 3 Local Laws concerning Minority and Women Business utilization in Erie County:
1.) Local Law #6 of 1987.
2.) Local Law #5 of 1994.
3.) Local Law #9 of 2005.
Local Law #6 governs utilization of minority and women owned firms in construction contracts exceeding $100,000.00 within the Erie County Department of Public Works and the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning. Local Law #5 governs utilization of minority and women firms in procurement of supplies, materials, equipment, and insurance contracts exceeding $15,000.00 within the Erie County Division of Purchase. Local Law #9 governs all of Erie County Government in relation to the utilization of minority and women owned professional, technical, and other consultant services such as in the areas of law, finance, information technology, accounting, and engineering, and outside of construction projects. The Committee was able to assist twenty five (25) minority or women owned business in their efforts to start-up, stabilize, or grow their enterprise. During the year 2012 eight (8) MWBEs and eighteen (18) WBEs were certified as such by the Erie County/ City of Buffalo Joint Certification Committee. Currently there are 105 certified MWBEs and 148 WBEs.
As a result of the yearlong effort of the Committee, the Erie County Purchasing Department reported 300% increase in bids or professional services contracts awarded to minority companies from 2011-2012.