Lentol praises agreement reached in Albany
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
New York is establishing a program to give preferential treatment to veteran-owned companies when awarding state contracts, Assemblyman Joseph Lentol said.
Lentol, (D-Greenpoint-northern Brooklyn), leader of the assembly’s Brooklyn delegation, announced that a bipartisan agreement has been reached in Albany between the Democratic-controlled assembly, the Republican-controlled state senate, and Governor Andrew Cuomo to award more state contracts to businesses owned by veterans, particularly companies run by disabled veterans.
“Those who put themselves in extreme danger in order to protect our freedom and our way of life deserve our respect, our gratitude and our assistance when they return home,” Lentol said. “We must help these highly skilled veterans find jobs when they return. Supporting the businesses they own is one important way we can do that.”
The agreement calls for the establishment of the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business Act. The act sets a six percent participation goal in the awarding of state contracts to service-disabled veteran-owned businesses, meaning that at least six percent of all state contracts will be awarded to these types of companies.
The act also creates the Division of Service-Disabled Veterans’ Business Development within the state’s Office of General Services (OGS) to assist veterans start, maintain, or expand businesses. The division director will be responsible for providing and collecting information to help businesses, developing a directory of certified businesses and promoting service-disabled veteran-owned business services statewide. The OGS will be required to make public an annual report on the division’s progress.
To qualify for assistance from the division, a small business must be at least 51 percent owned by a service-disabled veteran who controls the company’s day-to-day operations. The businesses will be certified for a period of five years.
New York is home to more than 900,000 veterans, 88,000 of whom served in Afghanistan or Iraq. In addition, the state is home to approximately 30,000 active duty military personnel, as well as 30,000 National Guard and Reserve personnel.
Lentol said one in seven veterans is self-employed or is the owner of a small business. With passage of the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business Act, New York joins 44 other states and the federal government in starting a program to help self-employed service-disabled veterans gain more state contracts.
“The leadership qualities and specialized skills our troops learn help make them successful business owners stateside,” Lentol said.
Cuomo, who proposed the legislation back in February, said the new initiative will expand economic opportunity for veterans by ensuring that New York State is providing every chance for them to participate fully and equitably in state contracting.
“Supporting small businesses owned by New York’s service-disabled veterans is just one way that we can honor the tremendous sacrifice that these brave individuals have made for our State and nation,” Governor Cuomo said.
“We do a very good job in this country of getting young men and women to raise that right hand and say that they are willing to fight and die for the United States of America, but we do not do a great job, either as a state or a nation, in transitioning those men and women back into the workforce,” said state Sen. Greg Ball, (R-C-Putnam County) chairman of the Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee. “The same attributes that make these people so vital to defending our freedom are the same hard earned intangibles that make them exceptional at running their businesses and creating jobs. This set aside will literally take thousands of veterans off of the unemployment line and will save lives by confronting the real epidemic of veteran suicide, by providing meaningful and lasting employment.”
Sam Hall, president of the New York State Association of County Veteran Service Officers, Inc., called the new program, “a great opportunity to spur growth of service-disabled Veteran-owned small businesses in New York State.”
Veterans who own companies can also turn to the New York State Veterans Business Outreach Center for help. The center provides targeted business training, counseling, and mentoring to help veterans start and grow their own small business. Business advisors help veterans improve profitability, expand market share, explore export opportunities, and provide other forms of assistance.