M/WBE Panel in Brooklyn

The panel at the M/WBE awards ceremony at the Billie Holiday Theatre. (Photo by William Engel via Kings County Politics)

Promoting and honoring minority- and women-owned business enterprises was the purpose of a recent panel and awards ceremony held at the Billie Holiday Theatre in Brooklyn. Stephen Witt of Kings County Politics reports on the panel, which included NYC Commissioner of Small Business Services Gregg Bishop and elected officials, including Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte (D-Flatbush, Ditmas Park). At the event, sponsored by the Five Chamber Alliance, a group consisting of each borough’s Chamber of Commerce, awards were given for accomplishments by women and people of color in business.

Among the topics discussed by panel members was the forthcoming expiration in April of New York state’s M/WBE program, Article 15a.

Bichotte said that she intends to not just renew, but “re-authorize” and improve the program. Among other things, the new program will include a workforce program that will ensure that contractors hire a significant number of minority and female workers.

“There are a few things that we’re trying to push,” said Bichotte. “We are trying to make sure that the program is more robust, in terms of lifting some of the barriers.”

Bichotte also talked about “the cap”, a restriction on the M/WBE program that disqualifies businesspeople from the program if their net worth is at least $3.5 million. Bichotte said that this restriction unfairly penalizes businesspeople who inherit large estates from their parents and grandparents, and that the cap should instead be based on how much money the government has been awarding them over a set period of time.

“Let’s say you lived [in Bed-Stuy] all your life, and you inherited a couple of brownstones from your parents,” said Bichotte. “Guess what? Your personal net worth is gonna exceed 3.5 million. So that is gonna dictate whether you should be in the program. Does that make sense?”

Go to Kings County Politics to read more, including what City Council member Robert Cornegy Jr. had to say about the city’s progress in streamlining the M/WBE certification process.

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