DDC awards First Contract for city’s first M/WBE Mentoring Program

March 14, 2023
The program, which has 49 firms as part of its first cohort, is the first of its type for a New York City mayoral agency.

The New York City (NYC) Department of Design and Construction (DDC) has awarded the first contract for city firms in DDC’s new Mentoring Program for qualified Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBEs).

The program, which has 49 firms as part of its first cohort, is the first of its type for a NYC mayoral agency. Applications for firms and small businesses interested in participating in the second cohort of the Mentoring Program will be open from April 3 to May 15, 2023.

“Equity is at the center of our administration’s vision for the city’s economic recovery,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “This first-of-its-kind program is yet another example of our administration’s commitment to expanding opportunities for our minority- and women-owned business owners and workers. With this program, we are giving M/WBEs the tools to compete for city contracts and grow their business while advancing the inclusive recovery New York City needs.”

“The response to our new Mentoring Program has been remarkable, and we are thrilled to have awarded our first contract under the program,” said DDC Commissioner Thomas Foley. “Government contracting is a valuable business opportunity and companies want to know how to compete for those contracts and how to complete them successfully and efficiently. By helping M/WBEs and smaller firms, we are not only correcting historic inequities, but we’re increasing competition for our contracts and making ourselves more responsive to the needs of all the different communities we serve. We will continue to find ways to promote these firms and expand the industry.”

The Mentoring Program features two tiers, and each firm will spend four years in each tier where they will receive tailored business management guidance, growth planning support and project-specific technical assistance from a technical assistance consultant and an established construction management firm.

Firms begin the program in Tier 1, which offers exclusive opportunities to bid on exclusive construction projects valued up to $1.5 million. Afterwards, firms can then enroll in the Graduate Mentoring Program (Tier 2) and compete for projects valued up to $3 million. Firms will also have access to a network of construction businesses and exclusive networking events, as well as trainings and other resources to improve their ability to successfully work with NYC agencies.

More than 250 firms applied for the first cohort of the Mentoring Program. Qualifying firms are in the construction industry, have been in business for at least one year and are certified by the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) as an M/WBE or “small business” (an independently owned and operated non-M/WBE with average annual gross earnings between $150,000 and $500,000 during the last three calendar years).

Jose Fernando Garcia, owner of Approved General Contracting of Mineola, N.Y., created his firm 20 years ago after moving to NYC from South America. The firm was recently awarded the first exclusive contract under DDC’s Mentoring Program to investigate and document the structural integrity of the Bellevue Men’s Shelter in Manhattan for a DDC project that will reconstruct the shelter’s atrium.

“I’m thankful to be selected as part of the first cohort for DDC’s new M/WBE Mentoring Program,” Garcia said. “The program offers great tools for minorities and small businesses such as support from consultants and project managers. Firms now have opportunities to be a general contractor on a project instead of a subcontractor. “

“If a firm or small business is genuinely interested and ready to work with the city, opportunities are available. “You have to work hard and show your worth as you would in any other industry. Take pride in the work being done and make sure you are consistent and meticulous from start to finish on projects. I’m also part of the mentoring programs offered by the MTA and SCA and much of my drive comes from the opportunities that are available to do work with them and to learn.”

DDC is the city’s principal construction management agency, building infrastructure and public buildings for more than 20 city agencies plus non-profit organizations that receive funding from the city. The agency is responsible for much of the city’s contracting opportunities for M/WBE firms and in the first quarter of the current Fiscal Year (FY) 2023, had an M/WBE utilization rate of 31 percent. In FY 2022, DDC’s awarded contracts valued at more than $515 million to M/WBEs, representing more than one-third of the city’s M/WBE contract awards for the year. In FY 2021, M/WBE firms won 334 total contracts with DDC worth $660 million, a M/WBE usage rate of 25.6 percent.

Through DDC’s partnership with the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS), participants in the Mentoring Program also have access to SBS staff, to capital opportunities through SBS’s capital growth and workforce development programs to support the administrative capacity of businesses. DDC’s Mentoring Program is modeled on similar programs at the NYC School Construction Authority and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

In July 2022, the agency created city government’s first Pre-Qualified List that is limited to M/WBE general contractors. Firms on the list have the exclusive right to bid on the agency’s general construction projects with an estimated value starting from $500,000 up to $2.99 million. In March 2022, DDC announced half of the design firms contracted to deliver architectural design services for future public buildings projects are certified M/WBEs.