Legislation to aid in the assistance of obtaining technical, managerial, financial and other business assistance for women and minorities has passed the state Assembly.
Bill 1986 passed the Assembly and will now go to the state Senate. Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-C-I Chautauqua County, supported the bipartisan legislation to amend executive law to create regional women-owned and minority business enterprise advocacy groups.
The amendment will establish within the Empire State Development Corporation an Office of Minority and Women Business Enterprise statewide and regional advocates. The new office will have the power and duty to investigate complaints concerning certification delays and a toll-free telephone service.
"As is always said, small businesses are the backbone of our community, and we all benefit as new businesses grow and prosper," Goodell said. "With this program, local entrepreneurs would have an advocate in the Empire State Development Corporation who can provide them step-by-step support as they work to start their new business."
Since 2002, the Assembly has held hearings across the state in order to review the effectiveness of the state's law and to obtain feedback from minority and women-owned business owners. Hearings were held in Buffalo, Syracuse, Utica, Albany and New York City. One notable theme that echoed at all the hearings was the difficulty in obtaining technical, managerial, financial and educational support. Other difficulties were improving and updating the existing database to include links to other state agencies so that minority and women-owned businesses can market themselves effectively and seek contract opportunities. Allowing advocates to act as a liaison for minority and women-owned businesses is meant to provide them a voice and aid in resolving concerns regarding certification delays, investigating complaints and assisting in the certification process. Advocates will also play an important role in developing educational outreach programs and creating awareness of competitive grant programs.
"I am always proud to stand with the hardworking men and women of Chautauqua County, who really are helping move our county towards prosperity. Connecting these small-business owners with a strong voice in the Empire State Development Corporation can help them on the pathway to success," Goodell said.