Port Authority and New York State Agree to a Streamlined M/WBE Certification Process

Governor Cuomo's office announced a streamlined M/WBE certification process between The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the New York State Department of Economic Development, Division of Minority and Women's Business Development (New York State). The announcement took place in February, at the 41st Annual Legislative Conference organized by the New York State Association of Black & Puerto Rican Legislators, Inc. in Albany, New York.

This effort was championed to make it easier for minority and women-owned businesses to obtain M/WBE certification and gain access to special vendor programs and regional contracting opportunities. Under the new agreement, first-time applicants can submit a fully completed M/WBE Certification Application to one of the agencies, along with the completed Addendum for the other agency. If the receiving agency certifies the applicant firm, it will -- as a courtesy -- forward the firm's application, certification letter, and addendum to the other agency for certification review.

For example, if Firm ABC would like to obtain M/WBE Certification with both New York State and the Port Authority, it will submit a completed New York State M/WBE Certification Application and a Port Authority Addendum to the State of New York. If the State of New York certifies Firm ABC, it will then forward a copy of its certification letter along with ABC's application and Port Authority Addendum to the Port Authority for certification review. Please note that the process works exactly the same way from the other end of the channel.

Both certifying agencies reserve the right to request additional information from Applicants to determine the business enterprise's eligibility for certification as M/WBEs.

"This is a big step forward," said Lash Green, Director of the Port Authority's Office of Business Diversity and Civil Rights. "A streamlined certification process between our agency and New York State encourages the participation of M/WBEs in the economic mainstream. We can now get qualified firms involved in a shorter timeframe, and across two certification strata rather than one. We're very proud to see this initiative move forward, and thankful for the commitment we've received from our partners at New York State."

An official Memorandum of Understanding between the Port Authority and New York State echoed Green's comments. The memo called the agency and New York State "mutually recognized partners" that both seek to "assist in the growth and development of businesses owned and controlled by women and minorities" as well as to expand "the pool of qualified M/WBEs."

TCAP - A Modified Process for Tenant Alterations

Construction projects at facilities owned and/or operated by The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, including our airports and terminal facilities, stimulate the regional economy. Our tenants are supportive business partners that share our commitment to increase opportunities for small, minority, and women-owned businesses in all contracting activities including construction.

Work done to alter a public facility or Port Authority leasehold must conform to the agency's Tenant Alteration Application Process. This process recently underwent revision to ensure consistent adherence to Port Authority policies and procedures including M/WBE requirements throughout our facilities. As of January 2012, the new process became known as the Tenant Construction and Alteration Process, or TCAP.

Apart from providing a means to manage new construction, TCAP:

  • ascertains that tenant projects are aligned with the Port Authority's business interests, plans, and objectives.
  • ensures and enforces conformity to building codes.
  • documents authorization and permit approvals related to construction.
  • aligns and coordinates technical criteria between the Port Authority's facilities and its tenants.
  • collects and assesses information related to public and Port Authority assets.

Ultimately, TCAP serves as a vehicle to protect and enhance the experience of the end user so that everyone benefits.

Moving forward, the following important changes apply. M/WBE sub-contractors (and firms hoping to become certified as M/WBEs) should note that:

  • the term ‘Tenant Construction and Alteration Process‘ shall be substituted in any Agreements that reference the ‘Tenant Alteration Application Process‘ or simply ‘Alteration Application Process‘.
  • TCAP projects cannot move forward if the Port Authority has not received, reviewed, and approved an M/WBE Participation Plan.
  • prime contractors are advised to leverage the Port Authority's online searchable M/WBE Directory.

In other words, it's more important than ever for firms to become certified as Port Authority M/WBEs.

To view a copy of the new Tenant Construction and Alteration Process Manual, or to download checklists, diagrams, forms, permits, and certificates, please click here.

To learn about contracting opportunities with our airport tenants, including Delta Air Lines (JFK and LGA) and Signature Flight Support (EWR), please contact Connie DeLaigle at (718) 244-4743 and Dolores Pollard at (973) 961-6331, respectively.

A New Instructional Video on Becoming a Certified M/WBE

Have you ever wondered what criteria are required to qualify as a Port Authority-certified minority or woman-owned business?

Well, wonder no more. The Port Authority's Office of Business Diversity and Civil Rights has produced a six-minute video that outlines the process.

Did you know that:

  • The Port Authority has set a goal to award 12% of contracts to certified minority businesses and 5% to women-owned businesses.
  • The agency encourages all of its business partners to adopt the same goals.
  • Once certified, your company will be able to participate in a number of Supplier Diversity programs specifically designed to grow and assist minority and women-owned businesses procuring contract work with the agency.
  • A price preference may be offered to certified New York and New Jersey based M/WBEs even though their bid could be up to 10% higher than the lowest bid.

Antonio Ramirez, President of D-Star Waterproofing, decided to become a Port Authority certified minority-owned business because of "the opportunities that were available."

In 2010, D-Star Waterproofing won a significant multi-million dollar contract to provide work on the WTC Transportation Hub project.

Says Mr. Ramirez, "It was a tough process, but it pays off in the end. I advise anybody that's considering [getting certified] to forge ahead . . .and do what you have to do to get there."

Founded in 1992, the Industrial Commercial Cleaning Group, Inc. (ICCG) provides full facility support maintenance. ICCG currently enjoys certification as an M/W/S/DBE.

"We found it particularly rewarding to certify with The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey," says Kim Jordan Epps of ICCG. "The certification process was difficult, but ultimately proved instrumental in our quest to diversify and build our client base. We now work with companies doing business with the Port Authority, New Jersey Transit, Philadelphia Housing Authority, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, and other government agencies."

Ms. Epps called ICCG's M/WBE certification through the Port Authority "the turning point" for her business. In 2011, ICCG won a $1.4 million publicly advertised Newark Airport Terminal B Baggage Handling contract. ICCG also qualified to participate in the Port Authority's Janitorial Maintenance Small Business Enterprise Program, which provides Port Authority-certified janitorial firms the opportunity to compete with companies of similar size and capacity for nearly 20 cleaning contracts valued between $35,000 and $16.5 million a year.

Says Ms. Epps, "I recommend that all small businesses seeking growth begin the process of becoming certified."

Based in New York City, American Fire Control became a Port Authority certified MBE in March of 2011. Almost immediately, the firm won a publicly advertised fire protection and services contract for Tunnels, Bridges, and Terminal facilities valued at $109,000.

Says Londel Davis of American Fire Control, "Getting certified by the Port Authority opened doors to a breadth of opportunities. Without hesitation, I recommend that qualified firms contact OBDCR and get certified."

To view the new certification video, and to learn about the opportunities available for certified M/WBEs, click here.

2011 Year in Review

Economic uncertainty seemed to dominate 2011. Nonetheless, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey managed to reach several impressive milestones in its ongoing partnership with the M/W/S/DBE community. We're proud to note that:

  • After five years, contract awards for M/WBEs working at the World Trade Center hit the $1 billion mark. This achievement included the creation of more than 2,400 jobs, and more than $1.3 billion in economic activity. The approximately 500 contracts comprising the $1 billion milestone were awarded to nearly 200 M/WBE firms who primarily offered construction and related services.
  • For the same period (five years ending in 2011), Port Authority M/W/S/DBEs garnered nearly $2.2 billion in contracts, created over $2.7 billion in regional economic activity, supported 10,540 jobs, and provided $780 million in wages.
  • In 2011 alone, M/W/S/DBEs received over $450 million in contracts in goods and services, architectural and engineering, and construction procurement categories.
  • OBDCR reviewed and processed approximately 900 MWSDBE certification applications in 2011.
  • The Mentor-Protégé Program added a special training segment  targeting small construction firms grossing under $500,000 annually. In 2011, the Mentor-Protégé Program had 26 core participants.
  • Our Business Credit Fair was a smashing success. Over 110 MWSDBE representatives attended and met with exhibitors, including 12 lenders ranging in profile from large banks to non-profits offering microloans and advisory services.

The list of accomplishments goes on and on. We're proud to say that you helped us create it. To view the full list of 2011 highlights, click here.

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