Assemblywoman Titus Works Hard to Help Small Businesses

Measures help meet environmental laws, advance technology and create new jobs
May 19, 2006

The Assembly passed an array of bills to help small businesses thrive in today’s challenging marketplace. Assemblywoman Michele Titus (D-Queens) said the legislation package was passed in conjunction with the Assembly’s Small Business Day.

The package runs the gamut from helping businesses comply with environmental policies, advancing technological development, reducing energy costs and making contract information more accessible for competing businesses. Since small businesses account for eight out of every 10 jobs in New York, the Assembly’s legislation encourages small business creation and development, according to Assemblymember Titus.

“Small businesses are literally the foundation of our local economies,” Assemblymember Titus said. “That’s why the Assembly has taken great steps to ensure resources are available to help new businesses startup and existing companies grow. Whether it is good, local jobs, responsible environmental stewardship, technological development or strong community pride, New York’s small businesses are the epicenter of positive growth.”

Helping small businesses get off the ground

The Assembly’s measures include several bills to help businesses raise the capital necessary to debut or expand. While large corporations have established inroads to gaining state or federal aid, Assemblymember Titus said smaller companies are too often overlooked. She said these bills provide equal access to vital financial support.

“Small businesses, including those owned by women and minorities, deserve every opportunity to thrive that larger companies enjoy,” Assemblymember Titus said. “Our legislation helps turn local business potential into profitable reality.”

Specifically, the legislation:

  • creates the micro business outreach center and program to provide a resource for small businesses (A.6704-A);
  • provides grants to small businesses and research institutions in New York to translate discoveries and inventions into commercially viable products (A.6431);
  • funds “kitchen incubators” to help local businesses and farms create and market unique food products (A.3717-A);
  • allows credit unions to participate in the Excelsior Linked Deposit Program to help businesses gain greater access to capital (A.4970); and
  • requires telephone service companies to offer deferred payment plans for small businesses to cover service installation, startup and initial maintenance charges (A.8429); and
  • provides zero or low-interest loans for energy efficiency projects, further allowing small businesses to grow and create new jobs (A.8352).

Broadening the technology landscape

To contribute to the technological advancements taking place across the state, the Assembly’s small business legislation package includes actions aimed at keeping small businesses at the forefront of innovation.

“The Assembly is making it easier for businesses to develop and produce high-tech products and create good-paying jobs,” Assemblymember Titus said. “The Senate and governor should follow suit to make sure New York businesses have the resources to thrive in the global marketplace.”

To help New York’s small businesses take advantage of today’s technological demands, the Assembly’s legislation:

  • changes the method of fund allocation for the New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research’s Small Business Innovation Research program so small high-tech companies can compete for federal SBIR funds to grow and create new jobs (A.3443); and
  • provides grants to businesses to specifically commercialize energy and environmental technology innovations within New York State (A.6758).

Helping small businesses comply with environmental protection policies

The Assembly’s legislation also makes it easier for smaller companies to become responsible environmental stewards. Assemblymember Titus said that by providing small businesses with the resources and assistance to be in accordance with environmental laws, the entire state benefits.

“From preventing pollution to conserving energy, all companies must make efforts to protect the environment,” Assemblymember Titus said. “The Assembly’s measures help businesses with limited budgets stay in compliance while protecting New York’s natural resources for future generations.”

To foster small business environmental regulation compliance, the Assembly’s legislation:

  • uses the Industrial Effectiveness Program to create funding opportunities for companies to comply with federal and state environmental laws (A.262);
  • establishes the Small Business Clean Environment Fund to assist local businesses in obtaining loans to purchase pollution control equipment (A.2657); and
  • offers information and assistance on environmental compliance and pollution prevention – including technical and financial assistance – from the Department of Economic Development’s regional offices (A.6332).

Further encouraging minority- and women-owned businesses

The Minority and Women Business Enterprise program was created in 1988 to promote employment and business opportunities on state contracts for minorities and women. However, during the governor’s tenure, the program has not operated effectively due to a lack of funding and neglect. Last year, the Assembly held hearings to determine the effectiveness of the program and to determine what updates were necessary to keep the program vital.

“The MWBE program should provide a level playing field for all businesses – large and small – when competing for state contracts,” Assemblymember Titus said. “Since the program was extended for an additional fifteen years in 2003, it’s important that the program evolve to make sure that our women- and minority-owned companies are given the attention and recognition they deserve.”

Based on feedback from members, Assemblymember Titus authored and supported legislation to enhance the MWBE program. The Assembly’s MWBE package:

  • makes the MWBE certification process more efficient by streamlining state, federal and municipal procedures (A.9243-A);
  • ensures a level playing field by commissioning a study to determine if a disparity exists between the number of MWBEs ready, willing and able to perform state contracts and the number of such contractors engaged to perform the contracts (A.9256-A);
  • increases money for the program by requiring the state Comptroller to establish a specific MWBE (Article 15-A) implementation fund (A.1622-A);
  • requires New York agencies to post contractor utilization plans on their Web sites to ensure MWBE members get the work promised to them (A.9067);
  • establishes a mentor-protégé program for small-, minority- and women-owned businesses (A.9068);
  • creates state and regional MBWE advocates (A.9839); and
  • requires free, daily on-line publication of New York State contract reports to expand the notification of business opportunities to MWBE members (A.8873-A).

In addition, the Assembly passed a number of bills designed to streamline operations within the MWBE program, including the process by which members are certified at both state and local levels (A.9070, A.6527 and A.3471-A).

“The success and jobs created by small businesses and those owned by women and minorities are part of what makes New York stand out from the rest of the country,” Assemblymember Titus said. “We must do everything we can to make sure that these local businesses have the tools and resources at hand to startup, maintain, grow and succeed. I urge the Senate and governor to pass and sign these crucial measures into law.”