New Committee to help strengthen this important component of Westchesters economy

7/10/2009 12:00:50 PM



Westchester County Legislator Lyndon Williams (D, I, WFP-Mount Vernon) will hold the first meeting of the newly-created special committee on Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE).  This new special committee of the Board, created by Board Chairman William Ryan (D, I, WFP-White Plains), seeks to strengthen existing minority and women-owned businesses throughout the county and to promote the growth of this important component of the county’s economy. At this first business meeting, Williams will announce the appointment of Robin Douglas, Michael Carriere, David Turner, Fannie Lansch and Ann Janiak as citizen members of the committee.


“I am pleased to appoint these outstanding individuals to this special committee,” said Williams.  “This new special committee will work to remove barriers and ensure that any resident who seeks to become financially independent by engaging in business and entrepreneurship will find a fair and open environment in Westchester.  I look forward to working with these citizens members in achieving our mandate” said Legislator Williams.


The creation of the Special Committee on Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises is the second step in three months taken by Chairman Ryan to engage the County Board in work aimed at boosting the local economy.  Back in March, the Chairman established the Legislative Task Force on Westchester Economic Recovery to ensure that the county is taking maximum advantage of the stimulus money being made available to counties from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and to work with local governments, business groups, non-profits, and the public to develop ideas and initiatives to boost the economy on the local front.


“Early on, the Task Force identified an immediate need to address the concerns of minority and women-owned businesses,” said Ryan.  Legislator Williams added, “In recent years, MWBE’s have come under much state and federal scrutiny.  Unfortunately, it’s been determined that this growing segment of our business sector has been underutilized and often overlooked during the competitive bidding / contract awarding process.  This new special committee will be empowered to push an aggressive legislative agenda that will build the capacity of MWBE firms and increase the utilization of qualified MWBE’s throughout the county.” 


This new special committee will work closely with the County Executive’s Office of African-American Affairs, which recently launched an initiative that makes minority-or women owned businesses more visible to county departments, contractors, municipalities and anyone else that might be interested in purchasing their services or products.  The initiative centers around a new online registration process available at


Business owners that sign up will automatically get email notices whenever new opportunities are posted in their area of expertise.  In addition, county departments are required to use a centralized database when looking for vendors to provide services.  To ensure compliance, all short-form contracts must be reviewed and approved by the Office of African-American Affairs under the leadership of Tracey Mitchell, who is the director of the county’s Minority-and Women-owned business program.  To date, 24% of all short-form contracts have been awarded to MWBEs.


Legislator Williams outlined the unique oversight responsibilities of the new special committee:


  • Ensuring Westchester County provide fertile ground for the development of MWBEs, promote employment opportunities, a more open competitive process and fair access to the County’s competitive bid / contract awarding process.
  • Ensuring the practice of “fair share” contracts, as stated in the State Article 15-A of the Executive Law, is adhered to in Westchester 
  • Examining and addressing the disparities between the numbers of qualified MWBE’s ready, willing and able to perform county contracts for commodities, service and construction and the number of such entities actually engaged in such contracts within the County. 
  • Recommending changes, if any, to state and/or county policies affecting MWBE’s, where appropriate 
  • Reviewing and recommending corrective County action affecting MWBE’s, where appropriate 
  • Ensuring MWBE’s fully participate in opportunities provided by anticipated Federal stimulus initiatives 
  • Promoting and fostering better relationships between the County and MWBEs

Brief Bio on Citizen Appointments:


Robin Douglas, Director African American Chamber of Commerce, Westchester/Rockland. An independent not-for-profit agency whose mission is to preserve competitive enterprise and maintain and strengthen the overall economy of Westchester and Rockland counties. 


Michael Carriere, Business Representative District Council # 9- Local Painters Union # 113.  This organization is committed to promoting the union labor workforce, protecting prevailing rate wages and serving and ensuring the safety of all its members.


David Turner, President, United Association of Contractors and Developers.  Comprised of professionals committed to teaching formerly incarcerated/troubled young men the electrical, laborer, carpentry and plumbing trades. 


Ann Janiak, Executive Director of the Women’s Enterprise Development Center Inc. (WEDC), a non-for-profit microenterprise development organization in White Plains, NY that helps women achieve economic self-sufficiency through entrepreneurship .


Fannie Lansch, President of the Westchester Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, an independent not-for-profit agency whose mission is to facilite business relationships between growing Hispanic market and the business community at large.