Help for navigating MWBE certification process
September 9, 2013
This past spring, Pete Lawson, founder of Brooklyn Martial Arts at 289 Livingston Street became interested in pursuing certification by New York City and State as a Minority/Women-Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE). Because the City and State allocates a portion of total spending on contracts to MWBEs, Lawson saw certification as an opportunity to expand his business, which teaches Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, mixed martial arts, and kickboxing to youth and adults. With certification, Brooklyn Martial Arts could begin to provide after-school and summer programming through the NYC Department of Education or training for public safety and emergency response providers.
A few things standing in his way? An FMS Vendor Number, a Business/Assumed Name Certificate from the clerk of the county, and a Certificate of Doing Business in Good Standing from the Secretary of State – just a few of the supporting documents required for an MWBE application.
“I didn’t know what a lot of the required attachments meant,” Lawson told Katie Lyon, Services Manager at the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.
Lyon referred Lawson to the NYC Business Solutions Center in Brooklyn which is designed to help businesses launch and grow. The Business Solutions Center employs an MWBE specialist, Juri Sanchez, who has helped hundreds of businesses complete MWBE certification applications over the past four years. In May, Sanchez and Lawson began working together on the MWBE certification application, which they completed over the course of two months and several more meetings. Before submission, Sanchez reviewed the entire package to ensure it was complete.
“Ninety percent of the time a business will submit an incomplete package,” said Sanchez. “Then, they have to wait for the city to review the package, send them a letter of deficiency, and resubmit the application with the additional documentation.” Sanchez indicated these types of stops and starts often deter a business from completing the process. Her role is to make sure businesses have the support necessary to avoid deficiencies.
Moreover, the partnership between the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and the Business Solutions Center helped Lawson to follow through with the application.
“Where another business might get distracted and I’d lose track of them,” said Sanchez. “Katie kept reminding Pete to keep working on the application until it was complete.”
Once the application was submitted, Sanchez continued to support Lawson, following up to confirm he had secured City certification and that the application had been forwarded to the State for certification.
“Being certified by New York City as a minority-owned business provides a stamp of approval for my business when competing for government contracts. Certification will help my business grow,” said Lawson.
To learn more about MWBE certification process, visit the NYC Business Solutions Center website or contact Katie Lyon at the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership at 718-403-1618 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a referral for MWBE certification support.