New York State, NY, (10/02/2019)---Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the utilization rate for Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises on state contracts increased to 29.13 percent during the 2018-2019 Fiscal Year, once again achieving the highest rate in the nation. In total, MWBEs won more than $2.93 billion in state contracts during the 2018-2019 Fiscal Year. The announcement was made in conjunction with New York State's ninth annual MWBE Forum, which brings together thousands of business owners, community leaders, state officials and contractors' representatives to discuss state contracting opportunities and learn about resources available to MWBEs. 

"In New York, we know that diversity is a strength, not a weakness — and when we empower minority and women-owned businesses to compete for state contracts, we create a better New York for all," Governor Cuomo said. "Our nation-leading utilization rate reflects the unmatched pool of MWBEs in the Empire State and our concerted efforts to create a more equal playing field for these companies." 

"We are breaking down barriers for aspiring entrepreneurs and providing opportunities to ensure the growth and success of minority and women owned businesses," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "The renewal and expansion of our robust MWBE program is advancing New York's nation-leading MWBE goals, with the utilization rate climbing to 29.13%. We are committed to encouraging and supporting minority and women owned businesses across the state, creating jobs and strengthening the economy as part of our overall efforts to promote diversity." 

In 2011, Governor Cuomo set a goal of utilizing MWBEs for 20 percent of state contracting. Two years later, that goal was surpassed — and in 2014, Governor Cuomo raised the goal to 30 percent, the highest MWBE utilization target in the nation. In the years since, New York State has made real progress toward that goal, including achieving 28.62 percent utilization in the 2017-2018 Fiscal Year. 

During Fiscal Year 2018-2019, the MWBE utilization reached 29.13 percent, the highest recorded rate in New York State, which translates to more than $2.93 billion in state contracts awarded to MWBEs. Since 2011, MWBEs have won $15.9 billion in state contracting. 

Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and CEO and President-Designate Eric Gertler said, "Inclusive economic development means providing opportunities for business owners from every background, and that is exactly what our MWBE program does. We have seen steady progress toward Governor Cuomo's 30 percent utilization goal, and today is another step in the process of reaching — and exceeding — that nation-leading target." 

The key to the steady increase in New York State's MWBE utilization rate since 2011 is the development of a sustainable, coordinated MWBE program that combines aggressive outreach to businesses, sustained engagement of state agencies and authorities, and robust technical assistance options for business owners. The wide breadth of resources available for MWBEs is highlighted at the state's annual MWBE forum, now in its ninth installment. 

The theme of this year's forum — "Leading the Nation" — highlights New York's best-in-the-nation efforts to support MWBEs. Launched earlier today, the two-day event brings together more than 2,100 business owners, community leaders, state officials and contractors' representatives. Attendees have the opportunity to learn about topics ranging from the re-authorization of Article 15-A, which provides statutory authority for the MWBE program, to financing assistance and information on major infrastructure projects. Highlights include: 

Supply & Demand Utilization Initiative 

As New York State's MWBE utilization rate approaches Governor Cuomo's goal of 30 percent of state contracting, the state has identified industries with low rates of MWBE utilization and documented MWBE availability. By tailoring outreach and services to these firms, New York can help ensure diverse businesses across the economy are able to compete for state contracts and increase New York's utilization rate even further. 

This year, the Supply & Demand Utilization Initiative has been expanded to support MWBEs in advertising and marketing, architecture, engineering, environmental services, financial services, insurance, legal services, medical and clinical services, real estate, communications, IT consulting, software, medical, dental, and lab supplies, office equipment and furniture and food and beverage. The initiative provides industry-specific assistance, including specialty webinars and technical services from strategic partners.    

Mentor Protégé Program 

This year, New York State re-launched its MWBE Mentor Protégé Program, which matches prime contractor mentors with certified MWBE firms. The mentor firms guide MWBEs with hands-on technical knowledge and networking opportunities so they can better access state contracting opportunities. 

Re-Authorization of Article 15-A 

Article 15-A provides the legislative framework for New York State's MWBE Program and was re-authorized by Governor Cuomo earlier this year. The newly-updated statute strengthens the state's MWBE program and extends it for five years. 

Fourth Annual Carey Gabay Excellence and Innovation Awards 

Four New York State MWBE businesses were recognized as Carey Gabay Excellence and Innovation awardees. This honor — named for Carey Gabay, who served as an Assistant Counsel to Governor Cuomo and as First Deputy Counsel for Empire State Development before he was tragically killed in September 2015 — celebrates New York certified MWBEs for their entrepreneurial spirit, commitment to innovation and efforts to strengthen their communities, principles that Carey Gabay lived during his service to New York State. 

The 2019 Awardees for Entrepreneurial Spirit and Achievement as New York State Certified MWBEs are: 

  • Laura Cueva, Interior Innovations
  • Kirit Desai, Derive Technologies. LLC
  • Mary Warren, Black Horse Group, LLC
  • Edward O. Watts, Jr., Watts Architecture & Engineering, D.P.C.