ALBANY, N.Y. /New York Netwire/ — Today, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo encouraged businesses, in particular minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs), to explore the more than $1 billion in contracting opportunities available for firms looking to do business with New York State. The Governor announced that an ebook “Opportunities Start Here!” is available to help businesses navigate through the many state agency and authority contracting opportunities.

The 122-page guide, initially unveiled during the Third Annual MWBE Forum in Albany last month, can be downloaded at

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo“While we have already reached our goal of increasing MWBE participation in state contracting to 20 percent, we remain committed to connecting businesses across all market sectors to opportunities with our public agencies and authorities,” Governor Cuomo said. “Providing an electronic one-stop-shop to more than $1 billion in state contracting opportunities is a new way to help MWBEs and other small businesses grow and succeed. I encourage businesses to download a copy and explore how you can do business with New York State today.”

The “Opportunities Start Here!” Resource Guide provides valuable information for businesses, including compiled snapshots of more than 100 government agencies and authorities, staff contact information, and instructions on how businesses can get certified in New York State. Continuing efforts to engage entrepreneurs and provide opportunities in an easy and concise way, such as the guide, have helped raise the contract utilization rate for MWBEs in New York State to 21.06%. Other initiatives developed by Governor Cuomo’s MWBE team include an improved online reporting system, a streamlined certification process and increased outreach initiatives.

These efforts have resulted in an increase in MWBE utilization beyond the 20 percent goal that the Governor set in his first State of the State address, when the state utilization rate by MWBEs stood at nine percent.

“MWBE certification and participation in MWBE forums have been instrumental in providing me with a new set of resources to define and grow my business,” said Sheila Hess of Conservation Connects, one of four businesses that were honored at the Annual MWBE Forum with a “Success Story” certificate of recognition. “Networking and keeping my vendor profile up to date are key strategies for finding the right contract opportunities. The [e-book] provides an excellent resource for staying current!”

The conference held on October 3-4 also featured a keynote address by entrepreneur R. Donahue Peebles, the owner of The Peebles Corporation, the country’s largest African American real estate development company, as well as a Specialty EXPO Track that provided information about new technologies and product innovations in growing markets such as infrastructure, high-speed rail, public-private partnerships and more. New networking opportunities also allowed businesses to meet New York State’s leading private and public decision makers.

“New York State continues to raise the bar in opening the door to real, tangible opportunities for MWBE firms throughout the state,” said Elizabeth Velez, President of the 40-year-old, second generation construction firm, Velez Organization. “The annual MWBE conference provides the best access to agencies and key decision makers, and the e-opportunities book provides the road map to increased participation of MWBE firms in NYS procurement.”