October 4, 2017
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces Statewide Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Utilization Rate Increases to Over 27 Percent

TOP Governor Cuomo Announces Statewide Minority and...

Creation of MWBE Advisory Council to Increase MWBE Capacity, Certification, and Utilization

Launch of Key Technical Assistance Programs

2nd Annual Carey Gabay Excellence and Innovation Awards to Honor Outstanding Businesses 


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the utilization rate for Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises participating in State contracts increased to 27.2 percent for the 2016-17 Fiscal Year, with MWBEs winning more than $2.2 billion in State contracts. The Governor also announced the MWBE Advisory Council and the launch of key technical assistance programs designed to increase the scope and capacity of MWBEs.

"In New York, we know that our economy is strongest when everyone is empowered to participate, which is why we continue to work to increase access and opportunities to success for MWBEs, and this year's forum highlights the strength of that commitment," Governor Cuomo said. "Our State's MWBE utilization is higher than ever before and New York leads the nation in our efforts to strengthen a diverse, inclusive economy."

This year, over 2,000 businesses, entrepreneurs, and government officials registered for the Forum - New York's largest annual business event. The Forum's theme, "Transformation 2017: ENGAGE, EMPOWER, ELEVATE" is designed to inform MWBEs of the strategies and resources necessary to win State contracts and grow their businesses. This year's Forum also continues the tradition of providing opportunities for MWBEs to build relationships with public and private sector decision makers as they pursue billions of dollars in State contracts. 

MWBE Utilization Rate

The key to the success of the Governor's MWBE program is increasing the utilization of MWBE firms in State contracting. Governor Cuomo has set the nation's highest goal for MWBE contracts at 30 percent. Under the Governor's leadership, the rate has increased nearly every year since 2011. As a result, New York is leading the economic empowerment of MWBEs at every level. For the 2016-2017 Fiscal Year, the rate of MWBEs participating in State contracts increased to 27.2 percent, totaling more than $2.2 billion in State contracts. This rate of utilization not only reflects the highest percentage of State contracts awarded to MWBEs in the nation, but also the largest dollar value of contracts awarded. 

MWBE Advisory Council

Governor Cuomo also announced the creation of the MWBE Advisory Council. The Council's mission is to advance innovative legislative, regulatory, and administrative recommendations designed to increase MWBE capacity, certification, and utilization to ensure that the State is able to meet and eventually exceed the Governor's statewide 30 percent MWBE goal. Under the Governor's direction, the Council will work with Alphonso David, Counsel to the Governor, State agencies and authorities, and members of the Legislature to examine prime contracting issues and develop strategies to increase MWBEs' access to capital so that MWBEs continue to grow and contribute to the State's economic development. The Council's recommendations will address and troubleshoot real and perceived disparities facing MWBEs, and strive to:


  • Develop strategies to increase prime contracting opportunities for MWBEs;
  • Increase MWBEs access to capital via State-sponsored and traditional, private sector lending programs; and
  • Foster MWBEs participation in public and private equity deals involving State-sponsored development projects.


MWBE Advisory Council Members are:


  • Gerrard Bushell, Dormitory Authority of the State of New York; 
  • Terrence Clark, New York & New Jersey Minority Supplier Development Council, Inc.;
  • Mylan Denerstein, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP;
  • Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Special Advisor to the Governor;
  • Charlie King, Mercury LLC;
  • Jesus Linares, National Hispanic Business Group/Business Relocation Services, Inc.;
  • Marc Morial, National Urban League;
  • Nayan Parikh, Ashnu International Corporation;
  • Hilda Rosario Escher, Ibero-American Action League;
  • Blair Smith, National Action Network;
  • Elinor Tatum, New York Amsterdam News;
  • Sabrina Ty, New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation; and
  • Sandra Wilkin, Women Builders Council /Bradford Construction.


The MWBE Advisory Council builds on the success and recommendations of the statewide MWBE Team, first created by Executive Order in 2011 by Governor Cuomo. The MWBE Team was charged with exploring ways to eliminate barriers and expand the participation of MWBEs in state contracting. 

By 2014, a number of key initiatives advanced by the MWBE Team, including an improved online reporting system, a streamlined certification process, increased outreach initiatives, and a State-sponsored bonding program, were fully implemented and helped increase the State's MWBE utilization beyond the 20 percent goal that the Governor set in in 2011. After surpassing his earlier 20 percent MWBE goal, the Governor once again raised the bar and set a new statewide goal of 30 percent utilization at the 2014 MWBE Forum.

The Carey Gabay Excellence and Innovation Awards

The "Carey Gabay Excellence and Innovation Awards for Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises" awards recognizes a select number of MWBEs for their entrepreneurial spirit and achievement in New York State contracting. This award is named in honor of Carey Gabay who was tragically killed as a victim of gun violence in September 2015 at the age of 43. Before his death, Carey served as an Assistant Counsel to Governor Cuomo and as First Deputy Counsel for Empire State Development. During his tenure with New York State, Carey worked tirelessly to ensure that the Governor's MWBE program was a success. This is the second year of honoring MWBEs that have built successful businesses due to their commitment to innovation and strengthening their communities, two principles that Carey Gabay lived by during his service to New York State.

The 2017 Awardees for Entrepreneurial Spirit and Achievement as a New York State-Certified MWBE are:


  • GCOM Software, Inc (Albany);
  • RJ Enterprises (Long Island City);
  • American Rated Cable and Communications, Inc. (Buffalo); and
  • Accustaff Rafferty Enterprises, Inc. (Albany).


NYS Business Growth Accelerator Program

First announced by Governor Cuomo in the 2017 State of the State address, the Governor also announced the grantees for the Business Growth Accelerator Program:


  • Women's Enterprise Development Center (White Plains);
  • Syracuse University/South Side Innovation Center (Syracuse); and
  • Business Outreach Center Network, Inc. (New York City).


The Business Growth Accelerator creates an opportunity for participating MWBEs to receive intensive technical assistance and business development training through selected local providers with demonstrated experience in serving this business community. Three grant recipients selected by New York State to partner in this initiative will be tasked with implementing an 18-month program that includes seminars and individualized one-on-one business development assistance to participating MWBEs, with efforts focused on areas where there is a collective need for standard business acumen. Grantees will partner with local industry experts in delivering support and training on a range of business topics, including marketing, finance, contracting, and sales - tailored to the capacity needs of each participating MWBE firm. 

NYS MWBE Certification Assistance Program

In addition, the Governor announced the grant recipients FOR the MWBE Certification Assistance Program:


  • Towne Ryan & Partners (Albany); and
  • Hofstra University (Long Island).


The Certification Assistance Program will provide support to firms seeking NYS MWBE Certification and will allow firms to work directly with the grantees through one-on-one sessions to identify any deficiencies in their MWBE certification application that may affect the timeliness and ultimate certification decision by Empire State Development's Division of Minority and Women's Business Development.

During his 2016 State of the State address, Governor Cuomo pledged to increase MWBE certification by an additional 2,000 businesses - and the State is on track to meet that goal by 2018. Under the Governor's leadership, more than 5,800 MWBEs have been newly certified since 2011. The New York State Directory of Certified Firms currently has over 8,300 certified firms, and is one of the largest listings in the nation of MWBE firms ready, willing and able to perform on public contracts.  

Access to Capital Initiatives and Support

During the MWBE Forum's opening session, Alphonso B. David, Counsel to the Governor, highlighted state programs that provide financing for MWBEs. These programs provide MWBEs with the capital necessary to win larger contracts, promote job creation, enter new markets and strengthen our economy. 

Bridge to Success Loan Program: In March 2014, Governor Cuomo launched the "Bridge to Success" loan program to invest at least $20 million to expand access to short term bridge loans for New York State Certified MWBEs. The goal of the State's investment was to provide the qualified MWBEs the short-term support they needed to access up to $100 million in State contracts. Three years later, the State has already exceeded that goal, with 106 loans totaling just over $16 million supporting over $134 million in contracts for New York State MWBEs.

New York State Surety Bond Assistance Program: In February 2012, Governor Cuomo launched the New York State Surety Bond Assistance Program, which provides technical and financial assistance to help MWBEs and small businesses secure surety bonding. Since the program launched, more than 469 MWBEs and small businesses have graduated from bond readiness training and MWBEs represent $26.65 million in bonding capacity as a result of New York State training, credit facilitation, and surety bond collateral support. 

Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office