Bichotte seeks help for minority, women-owned businesses
New York state should be doing more to provide opportunities for economic growth for minority and women-owned businesses, according to Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte, who has introduced a package of 13 bills aimed at assisting entrepreneurs.
Bichotte (D-Ditmas Park-Flatbush) is the chairperson of the Assembly’s Subcommittee on the Oversight of Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE).
“At a time where the wage gap and income equality are at an all time high, my legislation aims to further enhance the opportunities to incorporate MWBE goals, and create economic development opportunities for MWBEs and the local workforce throughout the state,” Bichotte said in a statement. “If passed, this legislation will have a multiplier affect on many local economies.”
One bill would attach a MWBE participation goal to any grant received by a locality or municipality to ensure that MWBEs get a fair shot at contracts for capital projects.
Another bill would require the New York state comptroller to report on MWBEs development and contract spending.
Bichotte predicted that her legislation has the potential to transform how MWBEs are able to conduct business in New York state.
Bichotte said that some of the goals of her legislation are:
1) To increase opportunities for MWBEs by attaching MWBE participation goals to entities receiving real estate tax exemptions.
2) To increase resources to expand the pool of certified MWBEs by conducting a feasibility study on capacity building and mentorship programs.
3) To increase transparency and accountability by sharing data with the public on MWBEs, companies who have received state contracts and companies who have received waivers in regard to compliance with MWBE participation.
Under state law, a business is considered women-owned if at least 51 percent of the enterprise is owned or controlled by females.
Minority-owned businesses are those enterprises operated by black people, Hispanics, Asians or Native Americans.
Bichotte said she has traveled throughout the state and attended dozens of community events in recent months to hear from a wide range of stakeholders. As a result, she said, the legislation she has introduced is informed by many of the MWBEs she has had an opportunity to come in contact with.
There are other ways to help MWBEs, according to Bichotte, who said she is working to improve community outreach so that business owners can become aware of government agencies that can help them. “Outreach is a problem. I have a large immigrant community in my district. We need to do a better job of reaching them,” she told the Brooklyn Eagle in a recent interview.
One way to improve the situation would be to get the state or city to set up information centers in storefronts in all neighborhoods, she said.
The issue is important to her, she said, because Brooklyn has a large number of minority- and women-owned businesses.