New York Empire State Development has crafted several business certifications over the years aimed to leverage minority-owned companies and diversify the state’s business economy. Minority and/or Women Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) certification has been a highly coveted title, sought after by hundreds of New York-based companies a year.
MWBE certification gives businesses access to a pool of potential connections and clients that are interested in hiring companies lead by minorities and women. The certified businesses gain access to more potential RFPs and a new network of contacts. In addition, certified companies are invited to the New York State Regional MWBE Opportunities Expo, a series of events throughout the county that connects women and minority-owned companies to technical resources and state assistance.
Historically, obtaining a MWBE certification has been a daunting process, full of complicated paperwork, confusing channels, and months of waiting with little support. Cue Nancy Kirby, Executive Director and CFO at IncubatorWorks. Kirby adopts her years of experience working with entrepreneurs and business startups to help local companies navigate the seas of certification.
Since June 2017, Kirby has assisted two companies attain MWBE certification. She is currently going through the process with over a dozen other companies and more are reaching out every day. By mapping out the process, assisting with paperwork, and making connections with the right people, Kirby plans to keep her 100% success rate in gaining certification for the businesses she works with. She also helps companies obtain certification quickly–her current record for completing the process is 3 months. “When you first hear of the process, it can feel onerous” She explains, “It’s a lot of work, but with the right help, it’s feasible, and it’s worth it.”
Paula Tarallo, from Ithaca-based East Shore Marketing, benefitted greatly from Kirby’s guidance. After attending a MWBE training seminar at Rev Ithaca Startup Works in September of 2016, Tarallo started the process of becoming certified. “I had a major client waiting for me to secure this certification in order to obtain a new advertising project,” Tarallo explains. “Nancy’s help was critical, connecting me with fast-track representatives and advocating for me along the way.”
East Shore Marketing landed the GlassBarge project with their client: The Corning Museum of Glass, a pillar in the local business community and a pioneer IncubatorWorks member. This summer, Tarallo and her team are thrilled to handle all advertising efforts and assist with media outreach for GlassBarge—a 30’ x 80’ canal barge equipped with patented, all-electric, glassmaking equipment on a statewide multi-city tour up the Hudson River and along the Erie Canal. The barge tour marks the celebration of the 150th anniversary of glass blowing in Corning, leaving port May 17, 2018 from Brooklyn. Tarallo credits Kirby for helping her attain MWBE certification, leading to the next level contract.
“I couldn’t have ever landed this statewide project for our largest client without Nancy’s assistance.”