On Wednesday, July 27th, Heart of the City hosted our first ever Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise(M/WBE) Forum entitled, “Bridging the Gap.” To better explore the New York State and Erie County M/WBE Program, we invited current and potential M/WBE certified contractors, local developers, and civic officials to take part in this forum.
Currently, the M/WBE program certifies small businesses in hope to give these firms increased ability to participate in commerce. However, New York State currently falls behind eleven other states on M/WBE spending despite having the second highest number of WBE’s and the third highest number of MBE’s in the US.
As a Community Development Corporation, discussing this disparity was important to HOCN. When minority-owned and women-owned contractors bring money back into their neighborhoods, those neighborhoods are able to become more stable. With a notable number of minorities and female headed households in the Lower West Side community, HOCN feels it is important for these business owners to receive their “piece of the pie.”
Held at D’Youville College, “Bridging the Gap” allowed contractors and developers to congregate in two separate break-out sessions and discuss the challenges they face with the current state of the M/WBE program. Keynote speaker Shandra Spicer, president and CEO of S&W Contracting of Western New York, later spoke to guests on how M/WBE contractors and developers can better work together simply by connecting and building relationships. Ms. Spicer also spoke of the ideology of “under promising and over delivering” to succeed in the competitive market.
While a small business contractor might not be able to offer the lowest bid, she urged M/WBE’s to make sure they are offering the highest quality of service. Panelists Gina Paigen, Co-Founder and CEO of Infinity Glass and Restoration LLC and Kenya Hobbs, Chairman of the Mayor’s Minority/Women Business Enterprises Taskforce, reinforced Ms. Spicer’s message and urged contractors and developers to make connections and utilize resources available to them.
More information on presentations and discussions from this forum can be found in the Buffalo News article, “Forum Held to Bridge the Gap Between Minority Contractors and Developers”
If you were unable to attend the forum but would like to learn more about the M/WBE program, contact Heart of the City to request event handouts and brochures.