New York State Sen. Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn) took a trip to the NASDAQ in New York City Tuesday morning to not only ring the bell signaling the opening of the markets, but bring awareness to opportunities for minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBE).
He and the state Democratic majority have recently passed a legislative package that seeks to ensure fairness in contract awarding for MWBEs; require more stringent reporting requirements for agencies and prime contractors; and enact clear and targeted regulatory changes to reflect best business practices in the state’s procurement process. Gov. David Paterson plans to sign the bill into law on Thursday. Also, the Senate passed language which makes loans from the $25 million Small Business Revolving Loan Fund targeted to MWBEs.
“What these pieces of legislation will do is level the playing field for minority and women business enterprises in the state of New York,” Parker says. “This is one of the strongest legislation packages that will help MWBEs create jobs and build community wealth within the African American community.”
Parker sat down with BlackEnterprise.com to give five steps to getting state contracts for minority and women-owned businesses:
Get your personal and businesses finances in order. Be sure your accounting records and bookkeeping methods are correct and well-documented. Take care of your state and federal taxes and any debts you might have.
Be sure you have an updated business plan. Don’t let years go by without looking at your business plan and updating it accordingly. If you don’t already have a business plan, put a solid one together.
Get certified in your expertise or industry and also as an MWBE. Be sure to do your due diligence in knowing the state, federal, and local requirements for certification in your industry based on what services or expertise your business offers. Apply for programs in your state, such as the Empire State Development Corp., to help you with everything from more information on business advancement resources to loans and grants.
Research state and federal agencies and the kinds of services they provide. “This is one of the most important steps, because many agencies do their own procurement. So although you may be on a list, you should develop a relationship with those agencies,” Parker says. Network with professionals in charge of procurement and make yourself and your business known.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to elected officials to help with the process. Call your senators’ or congressman’s office to get help with the process. “Many times we are aware of programs and opportunities that may not be advertised,” Parker says. “We also have relationships that we can help you leverage in order for you to be competitive in the process.”