1/16/15: MWBE Certifications Hit the Fast Track Following Agreement between Erie County, NYS

Modified: January 23, 2015 3:38pm

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Minority & Women-Owned Businesses now able to Quickly Obtain NYS Certifications

ERIE COUNTY, NY— The Erie County Division of Equal Opportunity Employment has announced that, following a multi-year effort, a “fast track” agreement has been reached between the County of Erie and City of Buffalo Joint Certification Committee (“JCC”) and Empire State Development that will allow expedited NYS certifications for minority- and women-owned business enterprises (“MWBEs”) 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 County 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% or approximately $18.1 million, while women-owned business participation totals 14.4% or approximately $18.7 million. The Erie County Department of Environment and Planning (“DEP”) also reports quarterly to the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation (“EFC”) and as of September 2014 identified a total contract value amount of approximately $8.5 million. Here, minority-owned businesses total 10.1% or $859,706 of participation and women-owned business participation totals 8.3% or $706,376.  When projects receive funding from NYS, Erie County is obligated to follow NYS goals for MWBE participation, so any opportunity for JCC-certified businesses to become NYS-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,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz.  “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.”

Empire State Development President, CEO & 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 on November 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 Governor Cuomo took office in 2011, MWBE utilization has more than doubled, increasing in FY 2013-2014 to 25.12 percent, well beyond the Governors goal of 20 percent, and corresponding to $1.96 billion in contracts for MWBEs.

For more information, please contact ESD at mwbecertification@esd.ny.gov.