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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Alfred State: Equal opportunities in education and in contracts

Alfred State’s track record for attracting more female students into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs is not the only way that the college of technology is encouraging under-represented groups to achieve success. By awarding more contracts to minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBE), the college is partnering with an increasingly diverse set of business owners.
“Due to our location, MWBE vendors are scarce in certain trades and industries,” said Joe Greenthal, controller. “This requires a significant effort by our Procurement and Payment Services Department to find certified vendors that provide us the products and services we need.”
Alfred State has once again met a goal set by the State University of New York (SUNY) for 30 percent or more of its discretionary spending to be with MWBEs. Greenthal described how difficult it can be to effectively encourage these new vendors, while juggling additional priorities.
“A delicate balance must be created to provide opportunities to MWBEs, while remaining an economic engine to the small businesses within our local communities,” said Greenthal. “We have an obligation and a responsibility to both, but it does create challenges to ensure we give appropriate attention to the college’s many stakeholders.”
Recently, Gov. Andrew Cuomo hosted the sixth annual MWBE forum to allow MWBE firms to network, find mentors, and to learn about major contract opportunities such as redevelopment of LaGuardia Airport and other top infrastructure projects.
While Alfred State’s contracts are nowhere near the size of those for major infrastructure projects around the state, Greenthal said it’s important for the college to follow the guidelines.
“A goal of the program is to stimulate competition in the market and work to reduce barriers to entry, which, ideally,” he said, “will create better pricing to the end consumers.”
Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) maintains a comprehensive directory of firms that are MWBE certified and qualified companies are encouraged to join the list. More information is available at: www.esd.ny.gov/doing-business-ny/mwbe.