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Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises—Frequently Asked Questions

What does my business have to do to be recognized as an M/WBE by DEP?

You can certify your M/WBE with the New York City through the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) for contracts that are 100% City funded. You can also certify with NY State through the Empire State Development Corp (ESDC).

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What is the purpose of M/WBE certification?

Certification is intended to insure that only bona fide M/WBEs participate in the program.

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If my firm is certified by another authority, is it automatically certified by others in New York State?

No. An approved certification from one agency does not guarantee certification to other agencies. However, there is a Uniform Certification Application for several agencies. Check with ESDC. If you are a business which is located in New York City, you should also call SBS at 212-513-6300 to see what other forms are needed so that you can be certified by New York City.

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Do all DEP contracts have goals for the participation of M/WBEs?

Contracts which have state and/or federal funding generally have goals for the participation of M/WBE subcontractors, services, and suppliers. The goals are a combined 20% for M/WBE Participation. These firms must be certified by the ESDC.

Contracts that are 100% City funded may have goals as applicable to Local Law 1. The goals are contract specific. A M/WBE Participation Goal is established based upon areas that can be subcontracted and M/WBE availability to perform work as a Prime or Sub.

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What is the Contract Financing Loan Fund and Bond Collateral Assistance Fund?

The Contract Financing Loan Fund helps M/WBE and small businesses access affordable capital to bid and perform on NYC contracts. This is a $10 million loan fund managed by the Department of Small Business Services.

The Bond Collateral Assistance Fund supports M/WBEs and other small businesses bidding on NYC-funded prime and sub-contracts with surety bond requirements, which are typically construction-related contracts. The Fund offers collateral assistance to enhance a business’s surety bond application and mitigate the risk to the business in working on a bonded project.

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What is the NYC Construction Mentorship?

In this four-month intensive program offered by the SBS, you will receive expert advice to help grow your construction business. Visit the NYC Construction Mentorship webpage to learn more.

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Does DEP have any other programs for small businesses?

On construction contracts which are not subject to M/WBE goals, there is a Locally Based Enterprise (LBE) Program. LBEs are also certified by the SBS. Small business are also assisted by other SBS programs.

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Is bonding waived for M/W/LBE participants?

Bonding is waived for LBE participation but not necessarily for contracts requiring M/WBE participation. However, SBS has a Bond Readiness Program and a Bond Collateral Assistance Fund.

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As a M/WBE, how do I get work with DEP?

DEP has a large capital commitment that will average $1.6 billion a year for several years. You can work for DEP as a prime contractor, a subcontractor or a supplier. DEP’s construction work is published in the City Record and advertised on the New York City web site. You can see DEP’s solicitation by going to the City Record On-Line. The M/WBE goals for a contract are listed with the description of the work. At the same site, you can see the results of bid contracts. If you wish to become a sub-contractor you can contact the contractor directly to offer your services.

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What is required for LBE certification?

Check with SBS for certification criteria and an application.

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Does DEP have a set-aside program?

No. Under current laws, there are no contracts specifically targeted by DEP for solicitation solely to M/WBEs. However, there are other agencies which may implement such programs (e.g., Port Authority of New York and New Jersey).

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Where can I obtain a copy of the directory of M/WBEs?

You can visit the New York State Contract System to obtain a copy of the M/WBE directory. SBS’s M/WBE directory can be e-mailed to you by calling 212-513-6300.

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As a M/WBE firm, am I guaranteed payment after a certain period of time?

As a prime contractor or a subcontractor there are time frames in which all contractors must be paid. Prime contractors are required to receive payment within 30 days of acceptance of their payment request or the contractor payment becomes subject to a late interest payment by the City. As a subcontractor you are required to receive payment from the prime contractor within 7 days after receipt of payment by the City to the prime contractor.

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As a M/WBE I have received invitations from contractors to bid on work, but I never get their work. What can I do about that?

Keep documentation of all solicitations. If your firm has been solicited for its services or supplies, request that you provide a Letter of Intent to the contractor with a description of what you based your pricing on. If your prices are within a reasonable range of prices offered by non-M/WBEs, and a contractor has not met its M/WBE goals, your copy of a Letter of Intent will help deny a waiver, and it will assist us in requesting that your firm be reconsidered.

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I am a M/WBE with in interest in participating on a construction contract. How do I find out what contracts will be bid or have been bid?

Bid results can also be obtained after 1pm on the date of a bid opening by calling 718-595-3269. Once you are provided with the name of the low bidder and the bid amount, you may contact that firm directly. For questions about our bid documents call the DEP Bid Room at 718-595-3265.

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What other initiatives does DEP take in order to reach out to M/W/LBEs?

We are committed to assisting certified M/W/LBEs in marketing their products and services. We provide listings of contract opportunities to contractors, suppliers, and consultants. We regularly attend trade shows and events seeking to expand the base of M/WBE firms, and we regularly assist M/W/LBE contractors seeking work. We maintain an active role with numerous contractor and professional organizations seeking contract opportunities for its members, and we advise firms on how to become certified as M/WBEs so that subcontracting opportunities are not lost.

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