de Blasio Program Helps Minority And Women-Owned Businesses Secure $93.5 Million

July 7, 2017

The de Blasio administration announced that a City program has helped over 100 Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises (M/WBEs) win $93.5 million in City contracts, including a record high $28.6 million in City contracts over the last year alone. Participants have also reported adding nearly 800 new jobs after completing the program. The program, called Strategic Steps for Growth (SS4G) M/WBE, features eight months of intensive business education taught by faculty of New York University’s Stern School of Business. Business owners receive support developing individualized, three-year business growth plans and participate in sessions on how to best compete for City contracts. This month, 12 M/WBE business owners graduated from the Department of Small Business Services’ eighth SS4G M/WBE class.

“Small businesses and minority and women-owned businesses are the cornerstone of our neighborhoods, creating local jobs and reinvesting in local communities. The Strategic Steps for Growth program continues to open doors and create jobs,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “If you empower small businesses and expand opportunity and resources to women and minorities, the whole city wins. There is still a lot of work to be done, but this is one big step towards a more equitable, prosperous future.”

“Over the last few years, this Administration has been honing in on programs like Strategic Steps for Growth that have the power to help create an economy in New York City that is equitable and provides opportunity to everyone. $93.5 million to minority and women-owned businesses – nearly third of that in the last year alone – is a clear signal that this focus is working,” said Richard Buery, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives and Citywide M/WBE Director. “Tools such as world-class business education, increased access to capital, and an easier certification process are all part of the renewed effort to ensure that the City’s minority and women entrepreneurs can compete and succeed in our local economy.”

M/WBE business owners bring their businesses’ real-life challenges to the SS4G classroom, creating a customized educational experience. Each participant presents their growth plan to a panel of contracting and business experts, including City agency representatives, program alumni, and volunteers from Citi, a founding partner for the SS4G M/WBE program. The finalized growth plans are used as a roadmap for expanding participants’ businesses over the course of three years, with periodic surveys delivered to measure impact.

The SS4G M/WBE program includes 40 hours of class time, 15 hours of peer-mentoring, and 60 hours of out-of-class assignments and activities. The Streetwise MBA curriculum, developed by Interise, is used for SS4G M/WBE and includes instruction on the following topics:

  • Business & Strategic Assessment;
  • Finances;
  • Marketing and Sales;
  • and, Human and Financial Resources

The SS4G M/WBE program is part of Mayor de Blasio’s bold commitment to M/WBEs. During the first three years of the de Blasio administration, SS4G M/WBE participants have won over $60 million of the $93.5 million awarded over the program’s seven years.

The City has also achieved an all-time high number of certified M/WBE businesses, with over 5,000 firms currently certified. Mayor de Blasio’s additional commitments to M/WBEs include:

  • Certifying 9,000 M/WBEs by 2019 – Local Law 1 of 2013 encourages New York City agencies to buy more goods and services from certified businesses;
  • Awarding 30 percent of the value of City contracts to M/WBEs by 2021;
  • and awarding $16 billion to M/WBEs by 2025;

Business owners interested in signing up for the SS4G M/WBE program and SS4G programs tailored to other industries may visit

“Small businesses are big job creators, and we are here to help them grow,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services. “Many entrepreneurs haven’t received formal business education, and we’re connecting them with a way to expand their knowledge and skills. The Strategic Steps for Growth program, focused on minority and women-owned businesses, has already helped participants secure over $93 million in City contracts and create nearly 800 new jobs.”

“$93 million to minority and women-owned businesses and 800 new jobs – that’s progress,” said Jonnel Doris, Senior Advisor and Director of the Mayor’s Office of M/WBEs. “Historically, minority and women-owned businesses have faced barriers to capital, government resources and contracting opportunities – and this Administration, with the help of the Department of Small Business Services, is dedicated to breaking those barriers down. These initiatives, programs and record investments are being made for M/WBEs so that they can grow and sustain their business. My message is simple: use them.”

At this year’s procurement fair hosted last week, the de Blasio Administration also announced that the City is ahead of its OneNYC target of awarding $16 billion to M/WBEs by 2025, having awarded $5 billion to M/WBEs since the goal was announced in 2015. The Administration also launched its third, easily accessible capital fund – the Bond Collateral Assistance Fund. The Fund supports M/WBEs and small businesses facing obstacles accessing surety bonds, bonds that offer collateral to ensure businesses can successfully perform on City construction contracts. The program allows eligible businesses to apply for surety bonds (collateral assistance) of up to $500,000 or 50 percent of the Contract amount, whichever is lesser, in order to meet cash collateral bond requirements. No contributions are required of contractors.

Other capital funds for M/WBEs include:

  • Contract Financing Loan Fund to help M/WBEs secure affordable access to capital to help perform on City contracts. Businesses may apply for loans of up to $500,000. The City has deployed $1.125 million since its launch on March 23, 2017.
  • Emerging Developer Loan Fund at the Economic Development Corporation, a $10 million pilot program that provides low-interest loans to New York City-based real estate projects.

The City has also achieved an all-time high number of certified M/WBE businesses, with over 5,000 firms currently certified. Mayor de Blasio’s additional commitments to M/WBEs include:

  • Awarding 30 percent of the value of City contracts to M/WBEs by 2021;
  • Certifying 9,000 M/WBEs by 2019 – Local Law 1 of 2013 encourages New York City agencies to buy more goods and services from certified businesses;

Separately, the de Blasio Administration, along with State Senator Marisol Alcantara and Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman, lead an urgent push to pass State legislation that would benefit City-certified M/WBEs. The State bills, S6513 and A08508, grant New York City the flexibility to utilize the same economic development tools which the State itself uses to help M/WBEs and small businesses enter the market for public procurement. These policy instruments include allowing the City to raise the discretionary threshold to $150,000 to closely match the State’s $200,000 threshold and to use best value in awarding points for M/WBEs. Currently, the City is authorized to award contracts of up to $35,000 for construction work and $20,000 for goods and services without having to go through a competitive bidding process, a process that can at times be burdensome for M/WBEs. This legislation would increase discretionary spending to $150,000 for goods and services purchased from City-certified M/WBEs. The legislation also allows the City to use a firm’s status as an M/WBE as criterion when awarding a contract.

The Senate passed this legislation unanimously and was passed overwhelmingly in the Assembly.

SS4G Program Success

Alpesh Patel is the President and Owner of Voltamp Electrical Contractors, which is based in Queens. While he has a business background, as an immigrant New Yorker he never received formal education on American business practices. In 2013, he enrolled in the SS4G program and came away with the following:

“The program is really good, it helped me get in touch with so many other CEOs and business experts,” said Alpesh Patel. “I created my goal and work every day towards it. My goal was to do more specialized work in transit signal systems, and to grow our volume of work. Taking this course, my interactions with the professor and my other colleagues in class always helped to motivate me. When I completed the program in 2014 we were doing about $5 million and change in annual revenues. Last year we did $16 million dollars-worth of work.”

Strategic SS4G helped Alpesh perfect his business strategy and boldly market his business. His company has since been awarded several large contracts, allowing him to also double the size of his team.

“Women and minority business owners have faced extensive barriers to accessing city and state contracts in the past. As a result, many of these businesses, which are disproportionately small and medium-sized, deserve the support of the city government to rectify this historic injustice. My bill, which more than quadruples the discretionary amount the City can award in contracts for MWBE’s, will transform this already groundbreaking and innovative program by incentivizing more businesses to enroll and by helping those businesses build the capacity to compete for future city contracts.” said Senator Marisol Alcántara.

“I think educating entrepreneurs through the Strategic Steps for Growth MWBE program is a great step forward in helping these businesses become part of the economic development landscape, but we can’t stop there. I applaud the Mayor and the city for creating this program, which has increased the potential of hundreds of graduates to go out and get city contracts. As the ranking Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee and the Chairman of the Senate Task Force on MWBEs, I will do everything in my power to ensure that MWBEs have an even playing field.” said Senator James Sanders.

“The Strategic Steps for Growth program connects business owners who have historically been locked out of our local economy with the information, skills, and capital that they need to thrive,” said Senator Leroy Comrie. “I am proud to work with Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Bishop to empower community-centered minority and women business owners and strengthen our city’s economy.”

“ continue to applaud Mayor de Blasio and his administration for their efforts to improve the opportunities for M/WBE’s, both with financial backing and with the improved opportunities to bid on city contracts. Awarding $93.5 million in city contracts, including a record high $28.6 million in over the last year alone, with some 800 jobs created, speaks volumes the city’s commitment to this program.” said Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda.

“The Strategic Steps for Growth (SS4G) program proves that investing in our small businesses is good for our economy. Providing our small business owners with the tools they need to grow their businesses leads to job creation. As Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Small Business, I am a strong advocate of capacity-building programming for small businesses and I am pleased to see this work paying off. I commend SBS, under the able leadership of Commissioner Bishop, for their great work in helping New York City’s small business owners obtain the skills they need to increase their capacity and continue being important contributors to the City’s economy.” said Council Member Robert E. Cornegy.

“As Chair of the Contracts committee, I am committed to ensuring that Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises have the government resources, contracting opportunities, and access to capital that they need in order to thrive in the modern economy. Strategic Steps for Growth is an excellent example of how the City is taking active steps toward making this crucial goal a reality. I commend the Department of Small Business Services, Interise, New York University, and Citi Community Development for all of the work they have done to make this program thrive,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

“An investment into minority and women-owned business enterprises, is an investment into the growth and development of not only small businesses but also our community as a whole. With $93.5 million in City contracts awarded to more than 100 MWBEs and the creation of nearly 800 new jobs, we have made unprecedented gains in economic development by supporting minority and women entrepreneurs. As Chair of the Committee on Women’s Issues, I commend Mayor de Blasio and his administration for working diligently to close the gap, increase M/WBE participation in procuring government contracts, and bolster our City’s economy through these awards,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo.

“Research from the Kauffman Foundation has shown that minority- and women-owned businesses face higher barriers to starting and growing their companies,” said Eileen Auld, New York Tri-State Director, Citi Community Development. “By supporting the Strategic Steps for Growth program, which provides minority and women business owners with access to professional networks, a growth strategy, capital and contracts, we aim to enable a diverse set of entrepreneurs to drive positive economic growth in their communities.”

“Interise is proud to partner with the City of New York’s Department of Small Business Services to provide the curriculum for Strategic Steps for Growth,” said Jean Horstman, CEO of Interise. “Through their program, the City is not just creating jobs. The City is creating an equitable, inclusive ecosystem for the resilience of minority- and women-owned businesses, the people they employ, and the communities they serve – one small business at a time.”


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