Dana Scherzi finally accomplished what she set out to do nearly six years ago, but it took court battles with New York state and tens of thousands of dollars in attorney fees.
Scherzi, CEO of an information technology company in Syracuse, was certified as a woman-owned business enterprise (WBE), a designation that will help her compete for state government contracts.
“I was happy to receive it, but it was a long time coming and felt like it should have been done years before,” Scherzi said.
The initial denial, and the long wait for her appeal to be heard and decided, is similar to the experience of other women-owned businesses in New York who have been caught in what feels like a bureaucratic slog despite their apparent credentials for certification.
The scrutiny is often heightened when a husband, father or other relative is involved in the business, as is the case at Scherzi Systems LLC, which is 51% owned by Dana and the remainder by her husband, James.
The Albany Business Review first reported on Scherzi’s case last fall, after five Appellate Division judges unanimously ruled the denial of her certification “lacked an adequate factual basis.”
The justices annulled the decision by Valerie White, former executive director of the state Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development.
They referred the matter back to the division for a new determination based on all the evidence that was presented by the Scherzis and their attorney, Jim Youngs, head of litigation at Hancock Estabrook LLP in Syracuse.