• Companies trying to find minority contractors for construction projects, but cannot find them, can apply for an exemption for their projects. In the last ten years, the number of exemptions rose from around 200 in 2012 to more than 1,200 in 2020.
Waivers, violations, and damages have all decreased this year. When asked if this was a function of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the construction industry, a spokesman for Empire State Development attributed the decline to government training and an increase in the number of certified MWBEs instead.
In the 1980s, The News revealed a minority contract system on the Buffalo light rail system that resulted in federal fees. In this case, Onyx Construction and Equipment Corp., which represented itself as a minority contractor, received a subway construction contract. But onyx was really created by a white man who was a senior member of a union affiliated with the Buffalo mob.
“It’s one of those programs we have to keep changing because there are always people out there trying to massage or change it for their own good,” said State Sen. Sean M. Ryan, D-Buffalo.
Today, Ryan said the most common form of fraud is what the Inspector General said it happened on the Buffalo Billion projects, which is where minority-owned and women-owned companies, on paper, do a significant amount of the work on the $ 750 million -Dollar Tesla Factory in South Buffalo and two million dollar projects on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. But, according to state documents, the work was actually done by white male-owned companies.