A package of measures meant to boost small businesses and aid the expansion of minority and women-owned businesses in New York were approved Tuesday in the Democratic-controlled state Senate. 

The measures include bills that would create a voucher program to boost innovation, the creation of a matching grant program for a federal program as well as proposals to aid minority and women-owned businesses when bidding for state contracts. 

“Small businesses including minority and women owned businesses are key drivers of economic activity in New York State, but very often face persistent barriers to financing and other challenges,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “We must do everything we can to support our small businesses through programming that can target resources to support their success."

Lawmakers in the state Senate state agencies with contracting power to develop a three-year plan to increase minority and women-owned business enterprise participation. They also want to expand eligibility for grant programs under the Urban Developmernt Corp. 

And lawmakers also want greater ability for minority and women-owned businesses to address staffing needs during states of emergency without losing their certification. 

“New York’s homegrown businesses are the backbone of our state. As we navigate our economic development policy in the wake of the pandemic, we must work to best serve the interests of small business owners," said state Sen. Sean Ryan. "In order to do that, we have to find new ways to support small businesses in communities across the state. Accelerating MWBE growth and unlocking funding to spur innovation are two key strategies to generate new businesses and help existing businesses expand, creating jobs in every region throughout the state."