What is a State Certificate?

This entry is part 15 of 15 in the series City Procurement

State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli is committed to advancing minority- and women-owned businesses by:


      • Promoting State contracting, subcontracting, and purchasing opportunities for MWBEs;
      • Providing the resources MWBEs need to pursue State business opportunities and requiring our office to contract with qualified MWBEs whenever possible.


In recent years, our office has exceeded the State’s MWBE participation goals and will continue plans to increase our annual participation.


Get certified


To take advantage of the state’s MWBE program, you must first have your business certified with the state as an MWBE. With MWBE certification, you will enjoy the following benefits:


      • You will be included in the directory of certified MWBEs, where state agencies and vendors seeking subcontractors can contact you.
      • You will not be subject to state competitive bidding requirements for procurements under $200,000.
      • It is more likely that an agency or vendor seeking to meet its MWBE participation goal will award you a contract ahead of similarly qualified competitors.


Why is it important?


Article 15-A of the Executive Law, signed July 19, 1988, authorized the establishment of an Office (now Division) of Minority and Women Business Development to promote employment and business opportunities for minorities and women in state contracts. Under this statute, state agencies are charged with establishing employment and business participation goals for minorities and women.


Article 15-A consists of nine sections. This summary is intended to familiarize you with the major portions of the law. Rules and regulations providing specific instructions and criteria for implementing the program are available by contacting the Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development in New York City or Albany.


Each state agency is required to designate a certain number of contract dollars for MBE and WBE contracts. It is certainly beneficial for agencies to focus on qualified contractors who hold these certifications.


In order for agencies to achieve their contracting goals, it is important that they facilitate bid solicitations or proposals with individual contracts that hold these certifications.


What are the requirements for certification?


For MBE’s under Article 15-A of the Executive Law, an MBE is a business enterprise in which at least fifty-one percent (51%) is owned, operated and controlled by citizens or permanent resident aliens who are meeting the ethnic definitions listed below:

      • Black: Persons having origins from any of the Black African racial groups.
      • Hispanic: Persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Cuban, Central or South American descent of either Native American or Latin American origin, regardless of race.
      • Asian-Pacific: Persons having origins from the Far East, Southeast Asia or the Pacific Islands.
      • Asian-Indian Subcontinent: Persons having origins from the Indian subcontinent.
      • Native American or Alaskan Native: Persons having origins in any of the original peoples of North America.


For WBE’s Under Article 15-A of the Executive Law, a WBE is a business enterprise in which at least fifty-one percent (51%) is owned, operated and controlled by citizens or permanent resident aliens who are women.


To qualify for New York State certification as a minority and/or women-owned business enterprise (MWBE), an applicant must successfully demonstrate the following through the production of relevant documentation:


      1. Ownership, Operation and Control: All firms seeking MBE, WBE or MWBE certification must be independently owned, operated and controlled by minority members and/or women.​ The ownership must be real, substantial and continuing, and the minority members and/or women must exercise the authority to independently control the day-to-day business decisions.
      2. Personal Net Worth Restriction: Each minority or woman owner upon whom certification is based cannot have a personal net worth exceeding $15 Million after allowable deductions.
        These are allowable deductions under the law:

        • Primary residence or the mortgage for that residence
        • Ownership interest in the applicant firm
        • Ownership interest in a holding company established for the exclusive and sole purpose of leasing machinery, equipment, or vehicles exclusively to the certified minority or women-owned business enterprise, that is majority owned by the minority group member or women relied upon for certification, and the holding company does not own any other assets of any kind.
        • Up to $750,000 of any qualified retirement savings plan.
      3. Mandatory Supporting Documents: For each minority or woman owner upon which certification is based) Current Personal and Business Federal and State Taxes (Including all schedules, statements and amendments).
      4. Small Business Restriction:  Firms must not employ more than 300 individuals. The Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development calculates the number of employees of a business based upon the average total employees of the business over four calendar quarters.
      5. Independent, Active and One year in Business: ​The firm must operate independently of other firms, must demonstrate it is an active business and generally, the business must be in operation for at least one year.
      6. Out of State Firms: Out of state applicants should be certified as a MWBE in their home state, if a similar process exists, before applying for MWBE certification in New York State.
      7. All applicants must have Authority to do Business in NYS from the New York Department of State prior to submitting an application for MWBE certification. The state reserves the right to request additional documents, or a full application from any applicant, regardless of application type or method.


Check out NYS EDC for specific information and to view the various waivers or print out this checklist that the state put together. 


Information above came from NYS Government websites, including but not limited to ESD and the Office of the Comptroller


Remember that certification is not permanent. Your MBE/WBE certification is valid for five years. Currently certified MWBEs may apply for recertification six (6) months prior to the expiration of their current certification.


Does this process guarantee that a WBE or MBE certification will be approved? No. The State’s Certification Analyst will be assigned to each application and will follow up and request additional information or documentation as needed.


Failure to provide requested documentation will likely result in rejection or revocation of your certification. In this case, you will receive written notification explaining the denial and how to appeal.


Is there a shortcut for MBEs and WBEs certified by other government agencies to be automatically certified? No. All organizations working on behalf of NYS to facilitate your application process must meet the same requirements and criteria, including New York State Fast Track Partners.


Will I have more opportunities to apply for projects with the certificate? Yes, but it is not a guarantee that you will be awarded a contract with state agencies. It depends on the agency, the availability of other MBEs and WBEs, and the scope, size, and budget of the project.


  • Vivian Mandala is the founder of CMC Network and has worked in NY Construction for over 20 years, most of which was as a Contractor. She is now a Construction Business Coach. In 2017 Vivian, along with a group of dedicated Contractors, CM’s, GCs and Developers, started CMC Workforce, a long term in depth construction training program. Vivian enjoys the personal connections she makes through her coaching and seeing the lasting changes that she sees her clients benefit from year after year.

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