Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today proposed new legislation establishing a five percent goal in the awarding of State contracts to service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses. This legislation would expand economic opportunity for veterans by ensuring that New York State is providing every occasion for them to participate fully and equitably in State contracting.
Supporting small businesses owned by New Yorks service-disabled veterans is just one way that we can honor the tremendous sacrifice that these brave individuals have made for our State and nation, Governor Cuomo said. This legislation will help us meet the goal of awarding five percent of all State contracts to service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, and will play a large part in our ongoing efforts to create new economic opportunities for the men and women of the U.S. armed forces.
The legislation would create a Division of Service-Disabled Veterans Business Development within the Office of General Services that would administer the program and coordinate with State agencies to help meet the five percent goal.
Every year, the State procures billions of dollars in goods and services for the benefit of the people of New York. The expansion of economic opportunity through the significant purchasing power of the State is but one way to thank service-disabled veterans for their honorable service to our country and to help reintegrate them back into the States economy.
Senator Greg Ball, Chairman of the Senate Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee, said, For years, we have been working to pass the NY Jobs For Heroes program. I am so excited to partner with Governor Cuomo to make 2014 the year that we provide this five percent set aside. We do a very good job in this country of getting young men and women to raise that right hand and say that they are willing to fight and die for the United States of America, but we do not do a great job, either as a state or a nation, in transitioning those men and women back into the workforce. With Governor Cuomos leadership, New York is finally going to join the 44 other states and the federal government that have already successfully implemented this program. One in seven veterans are self-employed or small business owners. The same attributes that make these people so vital to defending our freedom are the same hard earned intangibles that make them exceptional at running their businesses and creating jobs. This set aside will literally take thousands of veterans off of the unemployment line and will save lives by confronting the real epidemic of veteran suicide, by providing meaningful and lasting employment.
Assemblyman Felix Ortiz said, By committing to a goal of awarding five percent of state contracts to small businesses owned by service-disabled veterans, New York is taking another step forward in supporting the brave men and women of the U.S. military. I commend Governor Cuomo for making this a top priority of his agenda, and will work with all of my colleagues in the legislature to pass this bill this year. This is a great way to honor the sacrifice of our veterans.
Sam Hall, President of the New York State Association of County Veteran Service Officers, Inc., said, Governor Cuomos proposal is a great opportunity to spur growth of service-disabled Veteran-owned small businesses in New York State. We commend the Governor for this great initiative and look forward to working with him to see the legislation pass and engage New York States hard working Veterans in the state contracting process.
Governor Cuomo has made job assistance for veterans a hallmark of his administration. His Experience Counts initiative translates veterans military skills and experiences into opportunities for employment, and his $74 million tax credit encourages employers to hire New Yorks post-9/11 veterans who are currently unemployed. Additionally, the Governor has also announced plans to convene a Veterans and Military Families Summit in 2014.
New York is home to more than 900,000 veterans, 72 percent of whom have served during periods of conflict. Approximately 88,000 New Yorkers served in Afghanistan or Iraq. Additionally, the State is home to approximately 30,000 active duty military personnel, as well as 30,000 National Guard and Reserve personnel.