New York City Mayor Eric Adams has reaffirmed his commitment to the Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprise community by appointing Michael Garner as chief business diversity officer of the Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE).
In this role, Garner will support and elevate New York City’s M/WBEs by making the city a more equitable and inclusive business environment — a top priority of the Adams administration said the Mayor’s office in a statement on February 16. Additionally, Mayor Adams, signed Executive Order 26, to help address the “disparity within the disparity” in the award of city procurement dollars to MWBEs.
Although studies demonstrate that MWBEs are underutilized in city contracting, certain ethnic and gender groups of M/WBEs remain more disproportionately underutilized than others. Executive Order 26 focuses on increasing participation by Black American, Hispanic American, and Native-American M/WBEs and Asian-American WBEs — all groups that have been persistently and negatively impacted by procurement inequities.
According to available data and media reports, New York City’s certified MWBE firms have tripled since 2015 – from 4,000 to 11,000. However, only about 2,000 firms have received contracts from the city. In fiscal year 2022, the city awarded $112 million in contracts to M/WBEs using non-competitive methods — up from $75 million in fiscal year 2019. That award amount is expected to rise dramatically in the upcoming years.
“This administration has placed economic equity front and center as the city emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic and recovers economically,” said Mayor Adams. “By signing Executive Order 26 to increase the number of underrepresented ethnic groups awarded city contracts and appointing Michael Garner as chief business diversity officer of the Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises, we are reaffirming our administration’s commitment to expanding opportunities for our minority and women-owned business owners. These support systems will build equity, boost our recovery, and create new opportunities for M/WBEs citywide. This is how we ‘Get Stuff Done’ and fight inequality right here in our own city.”
“I am thrilled to welcome Michael Garner to this administration as the chief business diversity officer. Michael has a proven track-record of breaking through bureaucratic hurdles to ensure M/WBE contractors are given a seat at the table and, more importantly, are awarded contracts,” said First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright. “With Michael’s appointment and the accompanying executive order, this administration is demonstrating that it is laser-focused on creating an equitable business environment.”
“Our minority and women-owned businesses are the backbone of our city, and they deserve a champion worthy of their crucial role in our economic recovery. Michael Garner is that champion,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer. “I’m very excited for Michael to join this administration, help guide and grow our M/WBE program, and advance the policies laid out in this executive order — zeroing in on increasing opportunities at every agency and tackling disparities within our M/WBE program.”
“I am both honored and excited to have been selected by Mayor Eric Adams as New York City’s first citywide chief business diversity officer,” said Citywide Chief Business Diversity Officer Michael J. Garner. “As this administration builds on the recent successes of the M/WBE program, we look forward to making New York City an even more inclusive and equitable economic ecosystem for all of our businesses, including the ones that have historically been under-represented in our city’s procurement environment. We know that a disparity remains, not only between non-MWBEs and MWBEs, but also among certain ethnic and gender categories within our pool of diverse New York City-certified businesses. I commend Mayor Adams for taking bold action to systematically address these disparities, and I plan to leverage my 30 years of building successful MWBE programs across multiple organizations in support of our shared vision. A vision that is rooted in ensuring that New York’s economic recovery is an inclusive one, and in building the best M/WBE program in the Fortune 500 capital of the world.”
“The Adams administration has put Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises front-and-center in our economic recovery,” said New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) Commissioner Kevin D. Kim. “As the city’s first-ever chief business diversity officer, Michael’s vast experience and outstanding record of delivering for the people of New York will set our local businesses up to thrive. SBS is excited to get to work with Michael and all our city agency partners to ‘Get Stuff Done’ for our M/WBE community.”
“We hold steadfast to our city’s commitment to create a more inclusive and fair contracting environment for Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises,” said Mayor’s Office of Contract Services Director Lisa Flores. “As we continue the important work of reforming the procurement process, we keep M/WBEs at the forefront of our vision to ensure our policies promote success. It’s no secret that I, along with my colleagues, believe MWBEs are more than just the goods and services they provide — they represent New Yorkers and communities across the five boroughs. Our new chief business diversity officer, Michael Garner, has the experience and drive needed to prioritize the wellbeing of these businesses to ensure a bright future for all.”
Mayor Adams also announced that mayoral agencies are directed to, whenever practicable, seek to award contracts for goods, services, and construction of up to $1 million to MWBEs through a non-competitive method. By increasing the threshold limit of this directive from $500,000 to $1 million, the city has taken steps to ensure that M/WBEs will be able to more effectively compete for larger contracts, expanding their opportunities to work with the city.