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City of Schenectady considers raising cap on apprenticeship bidding requirements

NY News - Published Mar 27, 2020

UPDATE [3/24/20]: After receiving input from local unions and the Greater Capital Region Building and Construction Trades Council, the resolution has been temporarily shelved. Discussion on the resolution will resume shortly as lawmakers use videoconferencing to connect remotely, due to COVID-19 concerns.

The City Council of Schenectady is considering proposed legislation that could provide a welcome boost to minority- and woman-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) that are bidding on city contracts. The proposed legislation would raise a cap that is currently set on the dollar value of projects that may be bid on by businesses not certified by the state's apprenticeship program.

That cap currently stands at $200,000, meaning businesses bidding on projects valued higher than that amount must have the apprenticeship certification. That cap will be raised to $350,000 immediately, and then automatically raised again to $500,000 in 2021, if the City Council adopts the legislation. The change is expected to have a positive impact on MWBE's competitiveness in public procurement, as many MWBEs are smaller and less capable of committing time and resources to the process of completing apprenticeship certification.

In 2019, 68 percent of the City's bid contracts were valued above $500,000, with 24 percent between $100,000 and $350,000, and another 8 percent between $350,000 and $500,000. The number of contracts eligible for having no apprenticeship requirements would thus grow under the proposed legislation.

As a result of debate on the legislation in the Council, the legislation will also require contractors to submit utilization plans along with their bids detailing how they will fulfill the contracts if they win the award. The requirement is intended to insure that smaller businesses that are newly competitive for larger bids are still able to fulfill the contracts. City Affirmative Action Officer Ron Gardner also said his office would provide training and workshop opportunities in order to ensure that smaller businesses understand the requirements of them under the new rules.

For more, see https://dailygazette.com/article/2020/03/03/a-boost-for-women-and-minority-owned-businesses-eyed.