Clinic Students Provide Guidance to Local Women, Minority Owned Businesses in Collective Seminar

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Albany Law School’s Community Economic Development Clinic (CEDC) within The Edward P. Swyer Justice Center has collaborated with Deborah Williams, along with other community partners, in co-sponsoring today’s event to assist minority and women owned businesses to file the paperwork they need to enjoy the benefits of M/WBE certification under New York State Exec. L. Art. 15-A.

The CEDC is working alongside Elevate Every Business, Inc. (EEB) to host a series of daylong events to offer women and minority owned business owners the opportunity to be matched with specialists in preparing and filing for the NYS certification. CEDC clinic students and staff will serve alongside community partners acting as specialists and work with business owners to ensure they have a complete and successful application for certification.


M/WBE certification allows businesses who have historically faced barriers in bidding on State and  local government contracts to access procurement opportunities. In addition, businesses with this certification are placed in a directory for State agencies and vendors to browse when they need prime- or sub- contractors or a specific type of business.

Assisting local women and minority owned businesses obtain this certification and provide space for collaboration is nothing new to Deborah Williams, a longtime Albany-based community advocate and founder of EEB. Making the certification program work for local communities requires a strong partner to help navigate the law, something that is sorely needed in the region.    

Deborah Williams
Deborah Williams

 “While I have worked with the law school since the community programs first existed, I typically hear from Albany residents that they haven’t even been aware of its existence, let alone that it could be a place where they care about what long-time residents are doing, see the value that women and minorities bring to the table, and could be a place to help them with the logistics and the legal side,” she said. “This is just the beginning of a very fruitful partnership and not just for the people that come to me, not just for Albany Law School graduates, but for the community at large.”

  Ms. Williams started this work in the mid-1990s and has hosted similar workshops over the years through her time as a co-founder of the Capital Region chapter of the National Association of Minority Contractors.

  “In so many ways, it's a true community partnership,” Todd Arena, Senior Staff Attorney in the CEDC, said. “We are providing opportunities for students to get hands-on experience and training and help real members of the community and we are helping like-minded organizations move their missions forward.” For Arena, this program is about finally beginning to address long-simmering issues that have often been ignored historically.

  “We are in a critical time in the Capital Region, with numerous major contracts coming up for bid this year. Certification is a way to ensure that these major projects serve to include members of the local community, that they provide work for the local community, and that state and federal money functions to close rather than widen the well-known wealth gap and the health disparities that go along with the wealth gap. This program can help close those gaps, something we know is acutely needed across the region, and really across this State as a whole.” 


There are more upcoming certification workshops and related events later this year: 

Next offerings of Certification-In-A-Day (CIAD)
Friday, July 12th
Wednesday, Oct 30th
Both @ Albany Hilton (Downtown)

Discovering Procurement Opportunities for the Non Construction Company

This workshop will help MWBE firms identify procurement opportunities as well as potential customers who might be in need of goods and services from a certified MWBE firm. Attendees will be encouraged to utilize specific ways to increase their market intelligence and secure more contracts.

Date: April 17th, 6 - 7: 30 p.m.
Location: Albany Law School, 80 New Scotland Ave

Leveraging Your MWBE Certification

This workshop will help MWBE firms fully utilize MWBE certification. Attendees will learn how to create a customized utilization system for their business. This system will serve as a process to seamlessly integrate bid prospecting, estimating, development & submission.

Date: June 5th, 6 - 7:30 p.m. 
Location: Albany Law School, 80 New Scotland Ave



CEDC Certification in a Day