Logo for Empower Contracting and headshot of Yolanda Valdes

Spotlight on New York State’s EACs: Empower Contracting Inc.

Ahead of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day on Nov. 19, we’re spotlighting one of the six Entrepreneurs of the Year honored earlier this month at the Entrepreneurship Assistance Centers (EAC) 2022 Conference. Read the profile below to find out more about how the EACs can help women—and all New Yorkers—start and grow their businesses: esd.ny.gov/entrepreneurship-assistance-centers 

In 2014, prompted by the scale of rebuilding needed in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Yolanda Valdes started her business, Empower Contracting Inc., a full-service general contracting firm offering project development and construction management services. She launched with only one employee and one contract and brought in $7,384 in revenue. Within that same year, she found out about the Entrepreneurship Assistance Centers (EAC) program at Suffolk County Community College (SCCC); two years later, inspired to become the best in what she realized was a male-dominated industry, Valdes began working with the EAC. In fall of 2019, she enrolled in a 60-hour entrepreneurial training program, where she tied for first place in the SCCC Business Plan Competition. 

Fast forward to 2022: the Bay Shore-based business has expanded to six employees, and $1 million in revenues. Valdes credits her growth to the EAC at SCCC’s resources that helped her with business planning, funding and MWBE applications. The business is now MWBE-certified by New York State, New York City, Suffolk and Nassau counties, and also certified as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise and SBA-8A business. Empower Contracting has secured 12 contracts in 2022, including its largest contract to-date with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). 

Valdes explains that, while it is extremely difficult for woman-owned businesses to enter the male-dominated construction industry, they are well equipped to forge a formidable path. She says Empower Contracting is motivated by “building strong relationships with clients and a desire to do what is right,” and that its success is a result of an unwavering persistence to excellence, integrity, professionalism and innovation. More growth is ahead, as Valdes pivots the business to incorporate innovative and green energy-efficient solutions in construction. As an alumna of the EAC and Suffolk County Community College, Valdes also shows her support to the community by actively mentoring others, participating in EAC SCCC-sponsored MWBE panel discussions and webinars aimed at inspiring more local entrepreneurs.