NY State Senator Kevin Parker Outlines Plan to Expand City Contracts With Minority and Women Businesses

New York State Senator Kevin Parker, candidate for New York City Comptroller,

Photos: New York State Senate

New York State Senator Kevin Parker, candidate for New York City Comptroller, announced his comprehensive plan to boost the city’s certification and contracting of Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises (M/WBE).

New York City spends $20 billion contracting out goods and services, which presents tremendous possibilities for business owners. Women and people of color have historically not received economic opportunities, and M/WBE contracting provides them and their communities with important capital infusions. We cannot have an equitable economic recovery unless everyone has a fair share.

However, our contracting is not living up to this goal. New York City is 68% people of color and 52% female, yet in 2019 only 4.9% of procurement went to M/WBEs. By comparison, New York State’s is about 30%. Moreover, 83% of M/WBEs received no city contracting dollars, and 85% predicted they could not survive the pandemic.

As Comptroller, Senator Parker will conduct a comprehensive audit to determine how to increase the city’s M/WBE utilization rate to at least 30%. This must include making M/WBE certification easier, increasing their bidding on contracts, expediting payment, and increasing awarding of contracts to them. He will also analyze utilization of each category of M/WBE, to ensure that historically disadvantaged people of all backgrounds are receiving an equitable share of contracts.

The audit will only be one step to improve M/WBE contracting. Senator Parker will also lobby the state to raise the city’s discretionary spending threshold on M/WBE contracts to $1 million, from the current $500,000. He will do quarterly reporting of M/WBE contracting, as opposed to the current annual report card, so that he can proactively intervene instead of finger wagging after the fact. And in the Comptroller’s capacity of reviewing city contracts, Senator Parker will reject contracts where there was no good faith effort to reach a 30% M/WBE utilization, and lobby for legislation to codify this rate.

Senator Parker also realizes that M/WBE contracting can only reach its full potential if historically disadvantaged people can form successful businesses in the first place. A cornerstone of his plan for the city is to form an Economic Justice Council on his first day in office, which among other things will develop policies for how to help women and people of color to form successful businesses. And he will work with CUNY to expand the Small Business Development Center program so that there is one on every campus, in order to provide technical assistance, networking, mentorship, and access to capital to M/WBEs and other small businesses.

“New York City is the most diverse place in the world, and our contracting dollars must reflect that,” Senator Parker said. “If we are to achieve Economic Justice for All New Yorkers, then all boats must rise together.”

 Kevin S. Parker has served in the New York State Senate for 18 years, representing Brooklyn’s diverse 21st Senate District. A lifelong Brooklynite who grew up in the Bushwick Houses, Sen. Parker serves as the Majority Whip, the third-ranking member of the Senate. He is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Telecommunications, and serves on the Finance, Banking, Insurance, and Internet and Technology Committees. Senator Parker is one of the most accomplished legislators in Albany history, having passed over 40 bills, including 21 in the 2019-20 session.

Sen. Parker previously worked in the Chairman’s office of UBS PaineWebber, was a Project Manager for the New York State Urban Development Corporation, and managed intergovernmental relations for the New York State Comptroller.

An alumnus of the New York City public school system, Sen. Parker holds a BS in Public Service from Penn State, an MS in Urban Policy and Management from the New School, and is a PhD candidate in Political Science at the CUNY Graduate Center.

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