While certifications are up, more than 50% of interested female- and minority-owned businesses are not receiving enough support on completing applications for contracts, according to Stringer’s study. The report found that in the last budget year only 5% of $10.5 billion in city contracts went to firms owned by minorities or women.
BY ERIN DURKIN / NEW YORK DAILY NEW
MARIELA LOMBARD/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer found that few minority- or women-owned businesses are getting city contracts, and less than half are being offered support on applications.
Eight years after the city enacted a law to help them, businesses owned by women and minority-group members are struggling to obtain a much larger slice of the city’s multibillion-dollar contracting pie, a new analysis shows.
The study by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer found that while the number of minority group- and female-owned firms certified to bid for city contracts has surged, relatively few are cashing in.
Stringer’s office contacted 500 firms that had been certified, and only 25.5% said they had won a contract, according to his report, obtained by the Daily News.
More than half the firms, 54.8%, said the city hasn’t given them enough support to help them apply for contracts. And a third of the businesses said they had never even completed a bid for a contract despite going through the certification process.
In the last budget year, only 5% of the $10.5 billion the city spent on contracts — for everything from construction projects to paper clips — went to firms owned by minority-group members or women.
“The good news is the city has done a terrific job boosting these certifications,” said Stringer, who is running for city controller.
“The bad news is we’re still falling short where it counts — which is getting contracts into the hands of the minority- and women-owned businesses.”
Stringer said those businesses complain about often-confusing applications, the lack of notice about contracting opportunities and fees charged by some agencies to view bidding documents.
Large, well-established companies have years of experience navigating the process. But for fledgling businesses — which are more likely to be owned by minority-group members or women — the process can be overwhelming, Stringer said.
“The city is not doing enough to help the businesses navigate the bid process, which remains too complicated and too time consuming,” Stringer said.
Asked for comment on Stringer’s report, the city Small Business Services Department said that since Mayor Bloomberg took office, 3,500 minority- and female-owned businesses have been certified, and that such firms have won more than $3 billion in contracts.
“The city has also created programs to help (the) firms win contracts by connecting them to financing, bonds, mentors and one-on-one assistance for submitting bids,” the agency said.