Adams wants Afro-Caribbean small businesses certified as MWBEs

Mayor Eric Adams
Mayor Eric Adams addresses New York City Police Academy graduates during their graduation ceremony at Madison Square Garden, Friday, July 1, 2022, in New York.
Associated Press/John Minchillo

With Central Brooklyn, specifically Flatbush, East Flatbush and Canarsie neighborhoods, having large and growing Afro-Caribbean communities, Mayor Eric Adams is urging small businesses in these communities to certify as Minority and Women Business Enterprises (MWBEs), so they can obtain city contracts and opportunities, and become more accessible.

“We say it all the time, and I strongly believe it’s all about the small businesses, the backbone of our city,” Adams told Caribbean Life in an exclusive interview on Friday.

“I witnessed first-hand, during COVID-19, it was the immigrants’ businesses from the Caribbean Diaspora and general that provided the services that we need, as well as other services – nursing services and food delivery restaurants,” he added. “ And so, we know that we must give support, but also get out of the way of small businesses – something I did in the first week of being into office to try to stop the red tape and stop being punitive.

“We looked at 118 different rules and regulations’ fines, and immediately we moderated 30 of them,” the mayor continued. “And others, we modified to make it not so punitive. We saved small businesses millions of dollars. And that is so important. It was crucial. This is what businesses asked us to do, and we were happy to do that.”

In early October, Adams said his administration launched the small business advisory commission that builds on how the city establishes partnerships with the business community to slash through regulatory barriers.
“This is what small businesses talk about all the time,” he said, disclosing that his administration plans to create a link that is “almost a one-stop shop” to allow businesses to operate and to benefit from having “more of a centralization of what services are available and how to do registration for businesses and other ways that benefit our businesses.

“One of the top places to do business is with the city – over $20 billion in procurement for goods and services,” Adams added. “And so, we are encouraging our small businesses, our immigrant-owned businesses, to get certified as MWBEs, so they can get these contracts and opportunities with the city, and become accessible.”

The mayor said the $25 billion contract awarded to MWBEs in September was three years ahead of the Fiscal Year 2025 goal.
“When you say entrepreneurs, and look it up in the dictionary, you see the face of a Caribbean man or woman,” he said. “They believe strongly in owning their own business and owning their own home.
“And we’re also calling for the state to increase the small purchase threshold for city contract for MWBEs,” he added. “That’s so important. That was 500,000 previously. We believe that should go up to 1.5 million. That would give our agencies the discretion to allocate contracts to women and minority-owned business.

“And we’re really doing some in-house things here that is going to expedite and make it easier for our women-owned and minority businesses in general, and we know it’s going specifically to impact the Caribbean community as well,” Adams continued. “And so, our goal is to make these businesses competitive to some of the more lucrative city contracts before the formal competitive bids process open for the full market.
“And this is how we zero in,” he said. “It is more than just constructive contracts. It’s contract for paper and other supplies and consulting initiatives. So, there are lots of businesses in the city that we are focusing on to ensure that Caribbean and other minority-owned businesses with the city are made available for them.”

When asked what initiatives are in place to bring property taxes for Caribbean-Americans lower and to work with these small property owners behind on their property taxes and water bills, the mayor said that, as Brooklyn Borough president, he fought against the taking over of property based on water bills.

“We should give people the opportunity to retain their property, particularly to get the equities that they have built up,” he said, stating that he has been working with City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams on this matter.
“We signed legislation and authorized a one-time property tax rebate for hundreds of thousands of eligible New York home owners,” he added. “This impacted our community. The unfair tax system. I’m a victim of that. Living in Bedford-Stuyvesant, it’s something I’ve fought for and fought with those advocates who brought about a lawsuit due to our unfair tax system, and we need property tax reform.

“And that’s something we’re going to be pushing for, to make sure we get property tax reform that is going to be fairer in nature,” the mayor continued. “And our goal is never to take someone’s home because of a water bill or because of a tax problem. You want to give people an opportunity as possible to retain their homes. That is really (where) Black and Brown wealth is located, and we want to do everything possible to protect it.”

Adams applauded the Caribbean American community for being “extremely supportive” of his public safety agenda.
“If (there is) any community in the city (that) I see eye-to-eye (with) in the city around public safety is the Caribbean community,” he said, stating that public safety and justice are prerequisites to the city’s prosperity.
“I say that over and over again,” he added. “And so, I stated, when I ran for office, that I was going to make the city safe in general but specifically around gun violence. So, we put our anti-gun unit, and went after shooters and those who are carrying gun.

“And what did we produce? We have double-digit decrease in homicides, double-digit decrease in shooters,” Adams continued. “We removed over 5,000 guns off our streets; made thousands of arrests; we zeroed in on those who were committing dangerous crimes; and we looked at some of the other crimes – the burglaries, the robberies, the grand larcenies.”

But Adams said his public safety agenda has been “handicapped” by “too many people who are repeat offenders,” who “have been able to go through the revolving door criminal justice system.
“I call it ‘Catch Release Repeat’,” he said. “And we were to focus on those repeated offenders.”

The mayor said he held a summit last weekend with “everyone that is part of the criminal justice system — from law makers to judges to defense attorneys to prosecutors, so we can see how to fix our criminal justice system, and make it right.

“Now, when you look at it, we have a 27-year high in gun arrests,” he said. “We have an increase over the last year, but also a 27-year high in gun arrests. And I say, over 5,000, but it’s really close to 6,000 — 5, 995 guns we removed from the streets.
“And our felony assaults are down in September,” Adams added. “So, some of the things we’re doing are working, but we need everyone on deck at this moment in making our city safe.”

More from Around NYC