22 New MWL Businesses Welcomed to Construction Certificate/Mentorship Program


Victoria Benítez, 212-854-6732, [email protected]

Dan Held, 212-854-8374, [email protected]


Participants from last year's program have already received more than $5 million in awards for projects at the University

NEW YORK, September 9, 2009-Columbia University Facilities and the University's School of Continuing Education, in partnership with New York City's Department of Small Business Services (SBS), welcomed 22 new minority-, women-, and locally-owned (MWL) businesses to its Construction Certificate/Mentorship Program during a kick-off orientation and networking reception. The firms comprise the second cohort of the two-year certificate/mentorship program, designed to help MWL-certified businesses in the construction field build capacity and access opportunities for designated contracts with the University. 

"The Construction Certificate/Mentorship Program supports Columbia's strong record of providing opportunities for minority-owned, women-owned and local firms," said Joe Ienuso, Executive Vice President of Columbia University Facilities. "Through the program's combination of classroom training, which is now being done by Columbia's own School of Continuing Education, and one-on-one assistance, our goal is to enhance the ability of these small and medium-sized firms as they compete for business here at Columbia and across the City."

The program's curriculum follows a full project life cycle from cost estimating to project closeouts. Individuals receive assistance on understanding solicitations, pricing functions, and completing bids in Columbia's contract response format. After successful completion of the academic program, businesses will receive a Columbia University certificate. In addition, participants receive opportunities to bid on specific Columbia projects and are trained on how to successfully manage these projects, including payment requisition, planning, and scheduling projects in a timely manner.

"The applicants to this year's class amply illustrate the talent and diversity that we were seeking when we designed the program," said Dennis Green, Director of the Construction Administration graduate program in Columbia's School of Continuing Education. 

Since its launch in January 2008, 18 MWL firms remain active in the mentorship program. All of the active firms have had an opportunity to bid on Columbia University construction projects and 10 of the firms have bid successfully and won one or more projects at the University, totaling more than $5 million in awards.

"Our partnership with Columbia University is opening the doors for our certified minority- and women-owned businesses to grow," said Andrew Schwartz, the First Deputy Commissioner of the City's Department of Small Business Services. "This program means more opportunities for certified minority- and women-owned businesses to bid on contracts, expand their business, and effectively contribute to the City's economy." 

The Department of Small Business Services' Minority- and Women-owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) Program helps certified businesses access city contracting opportunities and build capacity. To certify with the program, businesses must be in operation for at least one year; be at least 51% owned, operated, and controlled by a woman or a member of a recognized minority group; and be located or have a substantial business presence in the NYC metro area. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/getcertified.

Over the last six years, Columbia has been able to meet or exceed its goal on MWL vendor participation. From 2002 to 2005, Columbia spent more than $112 million in major construction contracts with MWL firms, representing about 36 percent of its total spend for these services. From 2006-2008, Columbia spent about $179 million in construction and repair and maintenance services with MWL firms, representing approximately 30 percent of its total spend for these services. For more information about Columbia University, visit http://www.columbia.edu/.

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