2006-05-12 / Community

Reform Of State's Enterprise Program

After a series of proposals designed to reform the state's failed development policies, State Senator Malcolm Smith joined Senate Democratic Leader David A. Paterson to introduce legislation that would strengthen the state's Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) program.

"The idea of helping business owners who have traditionally been disenfranchised is one that few would disagree with. But when the program is devoid of any accountability or enforcement, it is not serving its purpose," Senator Smith said.

Senator Paterson noted that the proposal would require the State to compile a list of all of its agencies that are required to file compliance reports and notify the public of those that routinely fail to comply with reporting requirements.

Senator Smith said the Democratic proposal would help MWBE's succeed in creating more opportunities to grow businesses and create jobs. A major plan component is called the Mentor-Protg program. "Other states have used this approach with their MWBE and small business programs with great success and it's now time for New York to get on board," said Senator Smith, who added the Senate Democrats' proposal would eliminate all performance and payment bonds for contracts under $500,000, which he said "would allow more small businesses to bid on state government contracts."

The Queens lawmaker noted that legislation he is sponsoring would also fight fraud by increasing penalties against deceitful contractors that fraudulently misrepresent themselves as being minority or women owned.

Senate Democrats also called for the creation of an MWBE website, where certified MWBEs can access information about contracting and subcontracting opportunities throughout state government. Under the current system, MWBEs must go through each agency individually to get this information.

Mark O'Luck, member of the Minority Business Leadership Council, said the legislation sponsored by the Senate Democrats "is a major step towards addressing that fact that minority and women owned businesses have not been receiving their fair share of New York State contracts.

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