As construction and development continue at a steady pace in Buffalo, several legal and logistical trends have emerged.
For one thing, said Daniel Sarzynski of Rupp Baase Pfalzgraf Cunningham LLP, the state is looking more closely at Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Program certification. And that is having an impact on local business owners.
“I’ve been hearing of construction firms that are legitimate MWBEs having trouble getting certified, when the state had previously certified them,” said Sarzynski, a partner in the Buffalo law firm. “The application process is taking a lot longer. There are real significant delays.”
But while some use a figurehead in order to claim MWBE status when it’s not merited, the majority of MWBEs are legitimate, he said.
“The ownership is real, the ownership is substantial, the ownership is continuing,” he said. “It’s women-owned, minority-owned and operated and controlled by women and minority owners.”
However, there are some “bad apples” where the MWBE company is a shell company for a non-MWBE company, he said.
“That’s what the state is looking for when they’re looking at these applications for certification or re-certification,” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s a few bad apples that hurt the many companies that are legitimate.”
Sarzynski sees more scrutiny from the New York Attorney General’s Office, which he said has cracked down on companies that were certified but turn out to be fradulent.
“There are significant penalties for these sham companies,” he said.