Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Tuesday the elimination of New York’s years long certification backlog for minority and women-owned business enterprises.

This comes after an $11 million investment in the 2023 budget to improve the certification efficiency.

"The backlog in the MWBE system was unfair, it was unjust, and now it's history. Minority- and women-owned businesses are critical to New York's long-term economic success, and I made it a top priority to finally end the backlog so these entrepreneurs had the tools they need to grow and thrive,” Hochul said. “New York is leveraging significant investments to empower minority and women business owners, achieve unprecedented MWBE utilization, and build a more equitable, more inclusive business environment."

The milestone was announced at the the New York MWBE Forum in Albany. The Empire State Development’s Division of Minority- and Women-Owned Business Development will now be operating without a backlog of certification application for the first time in decades.

Empire State Development Officials told Spectrum News 1 the event was a “huge success” and well attended, while emphasizing the importance of eliminating the backlog.

“Improving the certification process and eliminating the MWBE certification backlog opens the door to economic growth and advancement for Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises across New York State,” said Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight “By removing systemic obstacles, we empower diverse businesses and entrepreneurs to realize their full potential, spur local job creation, encourage new investments, and cultivate statewide economic development. I want to thank the Governor for making this a priority and our dedicated ESD team whose tireless work made it possible.”

Hochul also revealed that the state of New York has exceeded its goal for MWBE utilization on New York State Contracts with a utilization rate of 32.3% during the 2023 fiscal year, that’s the highest rate in the country for the third year in a row.

At the time Hochul took office, there was a significant MWBE certification backlog with thousands of applications pending approval. She expressed her desire to overhaul the system during the 2022 State of the State address. Development of a plan to eliminate the backlog began on Feb. 1, 2023.