New York City Labor Deal Is Game Changer for Women-Owned Businesses

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Women-owned construction businesses in New York are voicing optimism about new city labor agreements aimed at increasing business for their companies and for those owned by minorities.

Earlier this month, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the agreements, which will cover $8 billion of construction contracts for city-owned buildings through 2018.

"On a business end it's tremendous, because this could take us to a whole new level," said April Malloy, a single mother of seven and owner of Construction 1st Class. A 100% woman-owned construction business like hers is a rarity in what's typically been a male-dominated industry.

"On a personal level it's even better. If we empower women, we empower America, and I truly believe that," Malloy added.

The agreements could trickle down to suppliers and manufacturers, too.

"Business is such that the same people seem to get the same projects over and over again, and this allows companies like mine to infiltrate that market," said Maya Phipps, co-founder of Phipps & Co., a New York City manufacturer and designer of interior finishes and millwork.

"It will definitely expand our market. Right now, we've predominantly worked on privately owned high-end hotels or residential, but we're not really getting the government jobs or low-income housing," Phipps said. "Now this allows us to hopefully get those same jobs."

Crain’s New York Business reported that contracts under the new agreements will be made through the standard bidding process and work must be done by union shops.

City officials estimated that the contracts will save New York $347 million through 2018, Crain's also reported.

Mayor de Blasio said the agreements will create "good-paying" jobs while managing city projects in a "cost-effective and fiscally responsible manner."

He added, "And for the first time ever, the city has negotiated provisions to open doors of economic opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses and create new pathways to good jobs for New Yorkers."

The good news for women- and minority-owned businesses comes as the the nation's construction industry is on the upswing, as Jon Kostakopoulos wrote last month. As Kostakopoulos noted, Dodge Data & Analytics expects construction spending to rise by 9% in 2015, vs. 5% in 2014.

Dodge expects spending on public-sector construction to bounce to a 5% increase after a decline of 9% in 2014. The firm projects that spending on commercial construction will increase 15%, compared with a 14% gain in 2014.

Institutional construction spending is expected to grow 9%, also up from 2014. Single-family housing building is projected to rise 15%, with multifamily housing growing 9%.

Building Radar has said that one factor for the increase in construction this year is the greater number of bank loans and bonds that are being made available.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.

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