Facilities and Operations Partners with ASCEND Regional Program to Facilitate Business Growth and Contract Opportunities for Minority Business Enterprises

February 25, 2022

Columbia Facilities and Operations (CUFO) joined the Ascend Regional Program: NY | NJ | LI, a business development program aimed at directing new opportunities to Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs), as a Founding Regional Opportunity Partner. The pilot program, launched in 2021 by the national initiative of Ascend, brings together Opportunity Partners and MBEs in New York, New Jersey, and Long Island to connect market-ready firms owned by people of color to new contracting opportunities. 

Regional Opportunity Partners are comprised of private and public sector organizations looking to connect with more MBEs and ultimately provide contract opportunities for work in New York and New Jersey. Each Opportunity Partner will work to prequalify and approve the firms in the program to do business with their organization, then sharing contract opportunities with the firms on which they can bid. Along with CUFO, Founding Opportunity Partners include Lendlease, DASNY, Gilbane, Holt Construction, McKissack & McKissack, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Skanska, Tishman Speyer, and Turner Construction. 

“The Ascend Regional Program is unique because it provides MBEs with the opportunity to get personalized attention – access to Opportunity Partners, access to financial support programs and more, while owners work to grow their businesses and gain access to contract opportunities that will help position them in New York and New Jersey. Columbia University and other Opportunity Partners will benefit by having more qualified MWBE firms in their pipeline to perform construction and maintenance.” said Tanya Pope, Assistant Vice President for University Supplier Diversity at Columbia. “Columbia is proud to be participating in this important program and to be helping MBEs find their footing as we enter a post-pandemic era.” 

In addition to administering CUFO’s role as a Regional Opportunity Partner, Pope and Scharlene De La Cruz, Program Administrator of the Columbia Grow Vendor Development Program, serve as Co-Program Consultants with President and CEO of Sacks Communications Renee Sacks Ph.D., networking with businesses to learn more about their capabilities and provide procurement data to inform firms’ contracting progress and success. 

For more information about the Ascend Regional Program in New York City, New Jersey, and Long Island, visit ascendregionalprogram.com/nynjli.