Biz owned by women and minorities gets help

A slew of new laws is ensuring that business owners from all backgrounds get a fair shake.

Businesses owned by women or minorities will now have an easier time competing for contracts under new laws enacted by Albany and the city’s Small Business Services.

The state has created a new position called Director of Diversity. The job involves serving as a direct delegate to the governor in order to guarantee that minority- and women-owned small businesses get their fair share of New York City’s contracts for goods and services.

Previously, Pennsylvania was the only state to have established this position.

The Bronx Chamber of Commerce is helping to promote women- and minority-owned business, and held a workshop to do so on Wednesday, August 11 at New Pine Restaurant at 1634 Eastchester Road, with guest speaker Walter Maxwell, who is the director of external affairs at Small Business Services.

The workshop offered options and tips to these types of business owners as they battle to win bids on requests for proposals for everything from professional services to selling the city pens and paper. Maxwell, in particular, was full of helpful tips.

“Anyone who wants to do business with the city has to register in the main database,” Maxwell said. “It takes 11 months on average to get into business with the city.”

Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises, called MWBEs, are also being assisted by Assemblyman Peter Rivera. Rivera in the midst of his reelection campaign, attended the seminar to tout new legislation that he feels will smooth the way to ensure more awards go to MWBEs.

“There was no commitment on the part of government until now,” Rivera said. “We have developed goals and standards for each agency that are not based on someone’s opinion, but on a concrete study. We now have annual reporting to the legislature on how the state is doing on this matter.”

Rivera told the crowd that through the efforts of the legislature and Governor David Paterson, it should be easier for MWBEs to be the winning bidders, and that the “rules have been changed.”

Gone are the regulations requiring Hispanic-owned MWBEs to provide birth certificates in order to register. This has been a point of contention for Latino small business owners for some time, because no other minority groups are required to submit birth certificates as proof of ancestry.

Ken Negron, owner, managing partner, and creative director of Door to Door direct marketing in Pelham Gardens, attended the seminar. “The materials they gave out will be read through thoroughly,” said Negron, who also said that one task MWBEs need to embrace is heavy promotion.

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