City, county create local minority women-owned business certification program

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — A new program aimed at providing more economic opportunities for minorities and women was announced Thursday by Monroe County and the City of Rochester.

"We have a saying here locally. Huge! This is really huge. This is big," said Rochester City Councilman Willie Lightfoot.

If you’re a business owner, you know how great it is to win a government contract. Now there’s a new local Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) certification program.

Getting certified as an MWBE has been a very difficult process for a lot of business owners. Sometimes it could take months or even years.

"When I went to get my MWBE certification myself it was so cumbersome and so difficult," Lightfoot said. "I ended up stopping going through that process because it was so cumbersome."

Under the new certification program, it’s all streamlined and there are people available to help you through the process. With the certification, minority and women-owned businesses can bid on local city and county contracts as prime and subcontractors.

This is in direct response to recommendations from the Commission on Racial and Structural Equity (RASE). Lightfoot served on that commission.

"This is going to be a big game changer and level the playing field for those that are marginalized and people of color and women," Lightfoot said. "It didn’t just sit on the County Executive’s desk. It did not just sit on the Mayor’s desk. They are actually putting into action the recommendations of the RASE commission report."

J2 Medical Supply hosted Thursday’s press conference. It’s is the nation’s leading black-owned, FDA-approved supplier of examination gloves, masks, COVID-19 tests and other medical solutions. Its President and Co-founder, former NFL star Roland Williams, hopes this new program inspires other Minority and Women-Owned Businesses and says it’s a step in the right direction.

In partnership with the University of Rochester, MWBE businesses can attend annual training to learn about the county’s procurement process and discover future procurement opportunities. Tentative workshop dates are April 26 and 27, 2022.

More information and applications for the MWBE certification program are available here.