For generations, there have been complaints around Western New York that minority and women businesses don't get their share of the pie, especially the construction pie. There's a meeting Wednesday afternoon to make some changes in that.
Every time there's a big construction project in the works, there is a push to open up the job and supply market - the Metro Rail in the 1970s-1980s, the Buffalo school reconstruction program, potentially a Metro Rail extension - to go along with hundreds of millions of dollars in private construction.
The Buffalo Common Council's Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Committee has a workshop at 1:30 p.m. for contractors and suppliers to meet with city officials and developers to talk about obstacles and programs.
Committee Chairman Rasheed Wyatt said it's an educational process.
"Those contractors who have felt that there have been barriers, who have contracts with some of the developers in our community information on what they need to do to be a part of this," Wyatt said. "There are many contractors who say they are on the outside looking in. [Public Works, Parks and Streets] Commissioner [Steve] Stepniak has been very open to having some dialogue to see what things we can do to make this process more efficient, more transparent."
Wyatt said serving as the committee chair has been eye-opening for him, to realize how complicated it all is, from establishing the financing, to moving into larger projects, to establishing the relationships to be considered for sub-contracting work.
"One of the challenges is just having them aware of these bids that come out and even knowing how to bid. There's a lot of know-how that a lot of the small businesses lack," he said. "So we're again trying to bring forth the information to try to help them with this. There's a lot of different things that I didn't know that are available to people to help them through this process, but a lot of them don't know them. They are not aware of it, so, we're trying to provide the information."
Wyatt said the information is even more important now even more important right now, as Governor Cuomo has proposed major new neighborhood building projects for Buffalo Billion Phase 2.