New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has appointed Haitian American Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte as chair of the Oversight of Minority-and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) Subcommittee.
The subcommittee was created and held by Assemblymember Crystal People-Stokes, chair of Government Operations for more than 10 years.
Heastie and People-Stokes had worked together to provide additional funding for MWBE initiatives in the enacted 2015-2016 state budget.
“I thank Speaker Heastie for his confidence in my abilities and recognition of my experience in the issues facing minority- and women-owned businesses,” said Bichotte, who represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn.
“I am ready and eager to work with my colleagues in the state legislature to make significant progress, especially in our cities, in promoting MWBEs and ushering in a new generation of minority and women entrepreneurs across the state,” she added.
“Promoting economic diversity only serves to strengthen our state’s economy and our competitiveness regionally and nationally,” Bichotte continued. “I know I can bring to bear my knowledge and skills to push us forward toward that goal.”
She said the MWBE government contracting industry has gained much attention, given the billions of procurement opportunities across the state of New York, allowing MWBE firms to conduct business with New York State’s and the city’s local government agencies.
“Although the promise and the intent to increase participation has been instituted in various state and local laws, there still exists constraints in meeting aspirational goals for the historically underrepresented groups; ultimately preventing the needed quantum leap to happen in the MWBE sector,” she said. “The way we change this is to implement and enforce the law.”
The Assembly’s financial plan includes US$1 million for the Minority- and Women-Owned Business Development and Lending Program, which provides financial assistance to MWBEs, as well as to projects and programs that assist the development of entrepreneurship among minorities and women in New York.
The budget extends the Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprise program for an additional year and allows for the hiring of seven new full time employees to support the program.
Bichotte said this program has provided valuable opportunities for MWBE-certified businesses to access state contracting opportunities and technical assistance to secure them.
The budget also extends the completion date of the MWBE Disparity Study by six months. The report will now be due by August 15, 2016.
Bichotte said she plans to introduce and support bills around MWBE that will ultimately help increase participation, assist in capacity building and “bring about a robust disparity study.”