The City of New York’s Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBE) Program expands opportunities for minority and women entrepreneurs to access City contracts and grow their businesses. Since its inception, DDC has developed and bolstered relationships with emerging M/WBE firms through direct outreach, matchmaking events, and educational opportunities. Many of these firms were awarded contracts — resulting in opportunities to do business with the City and substantial business growth. Success stories for City-certified M/WBE firms are prevalent among professional services and construction firms, and DDC will continue to increase the utilization of M/WBEs in City contracting. For more information about the City’s M/WBE program, the certification process, and the benefits of certification, please visit the SBS website.
Since becoming M/WBE certified with the City of New York in 2002, Cary Francis’s C Francis Construction Corp has grown considerably.
In 1995, Cary Francis took a chance and withdrew an annuity fund from his union job in reproduction. His uncle was in construction, so he knew about the business and thought he could build something for himself in the industry. Francis bought a used dump truck for four thousand dollars, which was the start of his company, C Francis Construction Corp. That single truck became a successful enterprise, now working on contracts around New York City, and beyond. “We built it from scratch with pure hard work,” Francis explains.
Francis signed up with NYC’s Department of Small Business Services in 2002, becoming M/WBE certified. The businessman was drawn by the stability of City contracting, and although he’s seen downturns over the decades, he hasn’t been disappointed in his choice. Francis takes pride in employing about five dozen people. “We’ve taken youngsters off the streets and turned them into men,” he says. “Working in the business has given young kids a way to clean up, to buy homes, and to continue to dream.” C Francis Construction Corp recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, and the company has dozens of trucks working on projects for several City agencies.
Francis says the work is challenging and competitive but rewarding. “It’s the American dream,” he says. “We’ve worked hard and it’s paying off.” C Francis Construction Corp transports material from excavation work on various types of DDC projects, including sewer installation and water main repair. As C Francis Construction Corp has built up its reputation, it has expanded duties into construction, including curb and ramp work. Francis envisions continuing to grow his business in the years ahead and is looking for routes to prime contracting.
Architect Jonathan Marvel, who leads Marvel, pursued City M/WBE certification to grow his business while enhancing local communities and building opportunities for a diverse staff. After two decades of practicing architecture, architect Jonathan Marvel worked with the City of New York to become M/WBE certified in 2013. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Marvel believed that certification would allow his firm to grow, in turn supporting Puerto Rican architects and designers. “We wanted to become a bridge to designers and architects in San Juan and the New York City community,” he explains.
Soon after certification, Marvel’s firm submitted a proposal to participate in DDC’s Design Excellence Program (the program is now known as Project Excellence). Marvel was selected as a participating large firm for architectural design services, which led to several large projects for the agency. Through the program, the firm was contracted to lead design for the Animal Care Center in the Bronx, the Bellevue Men’s Shelter in Manhattan, and the masterplan for the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanic Garden on Staten Island.
In 2022, Marvel was once again chosen to participate in Project Excellence after a rigorous review process. As well as its work with DDC, the firm has also worked on projects for other City agencies since certification, including the Parks Department. “We’ve become the largest employer of architects in San Juan,” Marvel Director Annya Ramírez-Jiménez explains. “And the largest employer of Latinx architects in New York City.”
The firm also has an aggressive program to recruit and support other minorities to work there, and they bring their collective diversity to their projects, using language skills and cultural sensitivity during community engagement on project design. The firm’s leaders believe that architecture helps address the most pressing issues facing our cities and our communities, and that other cities are looking toward New York City as a leader. “We’re looking to expand nationally and internationally,” Ramírez-Jiménez says. “Working with the City of New York allows us to shine.”
For more information about how to become a certified M/WBE, please visit the SBS website or this page. DDC does not have its own M/WBE certifications. To qualify as an NYC-certified M/WBE, your company must be certified by the NYC Department of Small Business Services.