WATERTOWN — Local business owners, prospective owners, employees and others gathered at Jefferson Community College Tuesday afternoon to hear from Valerie D. White, executive vice president and executive director of the New York State Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development, on certifying businesses and other issues related to the Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises program.
“You have to really make a commitment,” he said. “This one is located conveniently.”
In 2011, the state utilization rate for MWBE’s was a little under 10 percent, she said. In 2018, the rate increased to 28.62 percent. The division now receives 300 to 400 requests for certification per month.
Any commodity contract over $25,000 or construction contract over $100,000 has some goal for MWBE utilization.
Each of the 97 state agencies and authorities has its own coordinators, and sets different utilization rates for different projects.
“There’s a supply of MWBE’s, there’s a demand, but we can’t get them matched.”
The office is also expanding the number of people who are reviewing applications — good news for several of the attendees, who were looking to certify or re-certify businesses. They also present everything from weekly webinars to regional expos to network, help MWBEs get certified, grow, and work through issues with the certification process.
“I’m really here to hear from you,” she said. People shared experiences with trying to fulfill specifically minority business requirements, or getting waivers for making a good faith effort to meet contract requirements. Others said there are business around that might qualify but have not been certified.
Denise Stark came all the way from Malone to get help on certifying her business, Core Climate Systems, as a WBE.