Empire State Development and Columbia University Host MWBE/Small Business Resource Expo

(NEW YORK) – More than 175 minority, women, and small business owners from Harlem and throughout the five boroughs spent April 17 speaking with representatives from New York State, learning about upcoming construction opportunities at Columbia’s Manhattanville campus and networking with fellow business owners. It was all part of a business resource expo hosted by Empire State Development (ESD), Columbia University and the Columbia-Harlem Small Business Development Center to help minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBE) across the city – and businesses local to Columbia in Harlem, Northern Manhattan, and the South Bronx – grow and thrive in New York State.

Alphonso B. David, Counsel to the Governor, delivered the keynote address at the event, highlighting the Governor’s MWBE program and strategies that the State will use to meet the Governor’s 30 percent MWBE utilization goal, the highest state MWBE contracting goal in the nation.

“Growing New York State’s economy continues to be a top priority for the Governor, and a key element of improving and sustaining the State’s economic strength depends on the success of thousands of MWBEs located throughout New York State,” said Mr. David. “ESD’s Regional MWBE Expo Series is one of many tools that the State uses to provide business owners with information about the Governor’s MWBE program and State contracting opportunities.”

In addition to a full day of informal networking and instructional workshops, ESD representatives and Columbia University staff provided on-the ground financial and technical assistance on the MWBE certification process, employment readiness, finance and business development, as well as information about retail and construction subcontracting opportunities at Columbia’s Manhattanville campus.

“Small businesses are essential to New York’s economy, accounting for 43 percent of private sector employment and 35 percent of private sector wages,” said ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky. “We are dedicated to ensuring continued growth in this critical sector, and initiatives like the Small Business Resource Expo go a long way towards providing the necessary resources to make starting and growing businesses in New York State easier than ever.”

“Columbia has been and will continue to be a strong proponent of minority, women and local business enterprises. It makes sense for our business model to have high-performing firms nearby to assist with all that we do,” said Joe Ienuso, Executive Vice President of Columbia University Facilities and Operations. “Working hand-in-hand with the state, we can refer MWLBE firms to the state when those firms need assistance, whether that is with bonding and insurance, financing or certification. This resource expo was another example of the ways that we partner to assist MWLBE firms.”

The event profiled numerous programs New York State has available that are dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and small business owners gain access to capital, tap into contracting opportunities, and start and expand their businesses in New York State.

Representatives from the State’s Division of Minority and Women’s Business DevelopmentBusiness Mentor NY, and Bridge to Success Program were present at the event along with the Columbia-Harlem Small Business Development Center, the Washington Heights and Inwood Development Corporation, and the Harlem Community Development Corporation (an ESD subsidiary).

In addition, representatives from the Velez Organization and Skanska, the construction manager for the University Forum building at Columbia’s Manhattanville campus, discussed upcoming MWBE construction contracting opportunities, and Winick Realty Group was on hand to discuss retail leasing opportunities at Columbia’s Manhattanville development. Columbia University was represented by the Columbia Employment Information CenterOffice of Government and Community Affairs and Manhattanville Development Group.

For more information about New York State’s Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development, visit esd.ny.gov/MWBE. For upcoming bid opportunities at Columbia’s Manhattanville campus, visit manhattanville.columbia.edu.