MTA giving opportunities to MWBEs
Cyril Josh Barker | 8/21/2014, 10:25 a.m.
The MTA is making historic moves when it comes to working with certified minority- and women-owned businesses in giving them their fair share of work on projects.
The first of its kind in the country, the MTA’s Federal Small Business Mentoring Program is designed to stimulate the growth and development of small businesses, including MTA-certified disadvantaged business enterprises. The focus and goal of the program is to develop a larger pool of qualified contractors, reduce MTA construction costs and ultimately create local middle-class jobs within the small business community.
Officials from the MTA say that historically, small businesses have been prevented from participating in large transportation procurements. Over the past several years, the MTA has launched an authority-wide program to support small business participation, especially MWBEs and DBEs, in MTA procurement opportunities.
The MTA program is aligned with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s directive for 20 percent MWBE participation on all public procurements. To date, the MTA has exceeded this goal through its award-winning mentoring programs. The MTA’s Small Business Development Program includes two small business mentoring programs that offer direct contract opportunities for prequalified MWBEs and DBEs.
“Historically, the two main barriers that have hindered MWBEs are bonding and access to capital,” said Michael J. Garner, chief diversity officer of the MTA. “This program allows firms out there to take their destiny in their own hands. Not only is the MTA creating opportunities for MWBEs but also creating jobs as well.”
Projects for the program range from painting, concrete and masonry to electrical work and roofing. Since the program was started in 2010, MWBE participation has increased from 6 percent to 26 percent. More than 2,600 jobs have also been created.
“We view this program as an investment and not an expense,” said George Cleary, deputy director for small business mentor programs for the MTA. “This program allows us to create a larger pool of certified contracting, and we basically took out the middle man.”
Small businesses that work with the MTA can get loans up to $900,000 for equipment and to hire workers. Carver Bank is the only bank that has teamed up with the MTA to provide lines of credit to businesses in the mentoring program. At the end of this fiscal year, the bank will have loaned $2.7 million.
“Small contractors face some of the same challenges accessing capital, and for Carver this was just an easy fit,” said Carver Bank Vice President Blondel Pinnock. “Someone with a small contract who could get the job done, it really helps mobilize them.”
To participate, firms must complete a 10-course training program given by the MTA’s construction manager and its team. The courses provided firms with step-by-step instruction on how to secure work from the MTA.
Yvonne Johnson serves as vice president of Reality Construction Inc. and won a contract to do concrete paving at rail stations. Her company is currently working on rebuilding two stairways at a station in Astoria, Queens.
“It was a great challenge, but the MTA has helped us become successful,” Johnson said. “Going through the program has allowed us to hire more people and have more revenue come in. This has also given us the opportunity to work on even bigger projects.”