New York City’s minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) stand to gain ground by a new law slated to take effect this July, according to Sandra Wilkin, founder and president of Bradford Construction Corp., New York, who helped develop the legislation.

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The Introduction 911-A law eliminates the $1-million cap on program-eligible contracts established by Local Law 129 in 2005. It also increases city procurement contracts in areas including architectural and engineering services. The city expects 911-A, which is slated to go into effect in July, to increase the overall value of program-eligible contracts to $2.2 billion, from $433 million.

The new law, dubbed Local Law-2013, amounts to a new agenda for the city, says Wilken, who is also the Women Builders Council co-founder and president emeritus as well as co-chair of The New Agenda, a MWBE organization. The cap elimination allows MWBEs to bid on city contracts of any size, not just contracts of a $1-million value as set forth by the 2005 law, Wilken says. It also includes a tracking system for contracts, tighter procedures to weed out noncompliant MWBE firms, and more on-site visits for pre-certification. 

Wilkin says that it is up to MWBEs to increase their capabilities and capacities for procurement opportunities. There “is no doubt that [Local Law-2013] will be recognized as a national standard for MWBE programs,” she adds.

Meanwhile, some in the industry remain cautiously optimistic. "Hopefully, the legislation will be helpful," says Lou Coletti, president & CEO of the Building Trades Employers’ Association. "But MWBEs still have difficulty getting bonded and with financing,” he adds.