Aiming to boost economic advancement for undeserved communities, Mayor Bill de Blasio focused Tuesday on seeking passage of two home rule bills under consideration in Albany: the Minority and Women owned Business Enterprise Program (MWBE) Opportunity Expansion Act and the Community Hiring Proposal.
Both bills would empower the city government to use its own resources toward new job creation programs aimed at addressing economic disparity in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the mayor noted.
“We’re talking about crucial legislation to give more opportunity to minority and women owned businesses and to create jobs in communities by guaranteeing the jobs will be created for neighborhood residents when development happens,” said de Blasio.
According to Brooklyn Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte, who chairs the state Assembly Subcommittee on oversight of MWBEs, the MWBE Opportunity Expansion Act increases city agencies’ discretionary threshold to $1 million, an increase from the previous $500,000.
The legislation also allows the city to consolidate insurance policies among subcontractors on contract with an MWBE goal. It will also permit the city to provide tax credits to businesses that have policies that lead to diverse workforces.
The Community Hiring Proposal, meanwhile, would require firms the city does business with to hire low-income individuals and NYCHA residents. It will also enable the city to create apprenticeships with contractors, and a program to train qualified individuals.
The hope is that these bills would help mitigate the effect of structural barriers on women and minority business owners. This group has been shown to be less likely to have access to lucrative business opportunities.
“The MWBE Opportunity Expansion Act and the Community Hiring Proposal will generate more jobs in our own communities,” said Bichotte. “Because of the systematic socio-economic barriers, minorities and low income New Yorkers have faced a significant challenge in getting access to jobs and business opportunities.”
According to Dr. James Parrott, an economist with The New School, community hiring would enable the city to create 200,000 over the next five years for low-income neighborhood residents and those living in NYCHA housing.
De Blasio stressed that for the legislation to be passed, they will need the state legislature in Albany to make it law.
“We need the state legislature to help us get it done,” said de Blasio.