Mayor Eric Adams will unveil a plan Thursday that significantly raises the amount and number of city contracts awarded to businesses owned by minorities and women, addressing a longstanding inequity in the way city agencies dole out tens of billions of dollars a year in contracts.
Adams intends to make the announcement during his State of the City address at Queens Theatre in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. As the city’s second Black mayor, he has vowed to make equity a priority and has singled out the city contracting process as an area that needs improvement.
Civil rights advocates have long complained that New York City is falling short of a 2005 law that sets targets for the percentage of contracts awarded to businesses owned by minorities and women. The city routinely seeks outside contractors for a range of goods and services, led by construction work.
The new policy comes as many small businesses are struggling to survive amid the pandemic, which has resulted in less foot traffic within commercial corridors.
“This administration has placed economic equity front and center as the city emerges from the pandemic and recovers economically,” Adams said in a statement to Gothamist. “This cannot happen without significant support and investments in our minority and women-owned businesses.”
The mayor added that his plan would provide “additional spending, better oversight, and more support for underutilized minority groups.”
As part of the plan, the city will commit to a goal of awarding $25 billion to businesses owned by minorities and women over the next four years.
That would mean an almost 70% increase in annual spending over recent years, according to data provided by the mayor’s office. Looking further ahead, the plan would raise city spending to $60 billion over the next eight years.
In 2021, minority and women-owned businesses were awarded $1.2 billion, representing less than 4% of the city’s total spending on contracts, according to a report by then-City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
The comptroller’s report also noted that while the number of businesses owned by minorities and women has tripled since 2015, only 16% received city spending.
Under Adams’ plan, the city would also target certain groups that have been underrepresented in contract awards. They include businesses owned by Black, Hispanic and Native Americans and Asian women.
Valerie White, senior executive director of the New York chapter of Local Initiatives Support Corporation, an organization that works to build housing in underinvested communities, said she was “encouraged that Mayor Adams recognizes and is addressing this ‘disparity within the disparity.’”
She added she was hopeful that the plan would lead to more opportunities for housing developers of color.
“Until people of color have a seat at the table as active participants in addressing the structural inequities that pervade everything from housing to health care, the racial wealth gap will continue to grow,” she said in a statement.
Since being elected, Adams has sought to strengthen the city’s ties to the business community. Earlier this week, he announced a partnership with Goldman Sachs and Mastercard to provide $75 million in loans for small businesses. The city expects 1,500 businesses to apply for the loans.