Councilmember Laurie Cumbo, BK Reader, small businesses, City Chief Procurement Officer, City Council, minority businesses, Department of Small Business Services, women businesses, M/WBE,

The guide aims to ensure that subcontractors like M/WBEs will gain greater knowledge of their rights and to provide them with information about available city services and contract opportunities

On Tuesday, City Council passed a bill that requires the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) to create a resource guide for subcontractors. The new guide aims to connect small, minority- and women-owned businesses with information about available city services and to inform them about their rights, also in regards to securing and receiving payment from city agencies.

“Minority and women-owned business enterprises (M/WBEs) with city contracts are too often left in the red after incurring debt or filing for bankruptcy due to nonpayment,” said Councilmember Laurie A. Cumbo, chair of the Committee on Women’s Issues and co-chair of the Women’s Caucus, who sponsored the bill. “The bill will level the playing field by connecting subcontractors with existing city resources and services to protect the viability of every small business that invests in the revitalization of neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs.”

The guide aims to ensure that subcontractors like M/WBEs will gain greater knowledge of their rights and to enhance their confidence that they will receive the same protections as main contractors who do business with the city. Under this new legislation, the SBS will assume a greater role to assist M/WBEs and other subcontractors in securing payment from prime contractors. The guide will also provide a list of point of contacts for subcontractors in the various procurement offices of city agencies to connect them to resources and potential contract opportunities.

To date, M/WBEs have been granted less than five percent of city contracts. With an ambitious goal of awarding 30 percent of city contracts to minority- and women-owned businesses by 2021, City Council and the de Blasio administration have been working on legislation to ensure equal access and opportunities for these enterprises.

“This legislation will help ensure transparency and accountability by increasing access to critical information about legal rights while instituting protections for subcontractors who deserve to be paid what they are owed,” said Cumbo. “After overcoming several challenges to put forth a winning bid, M/WBEs should not have to undergo extreme financial hardship before they are ever able to recoup labor and supply costs.”

The legislation was left more broadly, to allow city agencies to tailor and disseminate the information to the Department of Small Business Services, which will create the guide in consultation with the City Chief Procurement Officer. Once the bill is signed by the mayor, it will go into effect in 180 days. The guide will be made available to all contracting city agencies and will be published on the city’s website

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Andrea Leonhardt

“Made in Germany,” Andrea Leonhardt is the managing editor for BK Reader. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree in political science, with minors in American studies and education, and a master’s...

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