The City University of New York now does business with a record number of state-certified minority and women-owned firms.
CUNY’s “utilization rate” of these businesses was 32.75 percent for fiscal year 2017-2018. This is up sharply from 4.94 percent, when the program began several years ago. The state’s utilization rate for the fiscal year is also at its highest ever – and the highest of any state in the nation at 28.62 percent.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the top-scoring state number at a major Albany forum focused on the successes and needs of Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises (MWBE).
In regard to the University, CUNY’s Senior Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer Matthew Sapienza noted: “We’ve made outstanding progress but recognize we have a lot more to do in this area.” Three members of the University’s Board of Trustees were also at the Albany conference: Chairperson William C. Thompson Jr., who delivered remarks to attendees, and trustees Michael Arvanites and Sandra Wilkin.
Earlier this year CUNY held a related – and equally celebratory – event which exemplified networking at its finest. The University’s 10th annual conference for MWBE and service-disabled veteran business owners (SDVOB) was held on August 8 with more than 70 exhibitors and more than 650 attendees. As in the past, business owners had ample opportunity to meet with the University’s procurement and contract experts.
The City University Construction Fund, (CUCF) CUNY’s public benefit construction corporation, also hosted. The program included five panel sessions, boot-camp intensives, business meet-ups and a marketplace with CUNY, CUCF and its contractors and suppliers.
One attendee, Jennifer Fountaine, of Edge Electronics, which sells lighting, laboratory, athletic, janitorial and other equipment to all CUNY campuses, said: “Having the top procurement heads from all the campuses in one location enabled us to interact directly with them. Within 20 minutes you can speak with each one.”
Another attendee, Caroline Doherty, an account executive at QED National, a firm that provides various forms of information technology consulting services, added that the conference enabled her and others to learn about “industry trends and challenges, within the MWBE community.”
Alphonso B. David, Counsel to Gov. Cuomo, attended the conference and emphasized that “the governor has long held the belief … that our economy is strongest when it is inclusive. We seek to empower people who wish to participate, but who also qualify to participate. There is this really absurd concept that diversity and inclusion ignore expertise … and qualifications. We often hear people say, ‘Well, you are looking to make this space more diverse. You are looking to hire more black and brown people. You are looking to hire women. Are they qualified?’” He added that this misguided notion is one “we have to actively target and challenge.”
Also speaking was Chairperson Thompson, who noted: “When MWBE and SDVOB do well, all of New York does well. And the people that we care so much about, our students, have the opportunity to benefit.”
In regard to this, Fountaine noted that the money her company earned from the University enabled her to hire another woman to work on CUNY campuses – Nancy Delgadillo, a City College alumna and an Army veteran.