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Tag: SBA

The Bad, the Ugly and some Good

Small businesses experienced a mixed bag in their pursuit of federal contracts during fiscal year 2023. On one hand, the government allocated a record-breaking $178.6 billion to small businesses, marking a significant increase from previous years. However, this surge in funding was accompanied by a concerning trend: a decline in the number of small businesses securing prime government contracts, dropping by 2.2 percent compared to the previous fiscal year. (INC. May 1, 2024)

Despite receiving a larger share of federal contracting dollars, small businesses faced formidable challenges in competing for contracts. The competitive landscape remains dominated by larger, more established players, placing smaller enterprises at a disadvantage due to their limited resources. Contract bundling further exacerbates the issue by consolidating contracts into larger, more complex opportunities that are often inaccessible to smaller firms. (ibid)

Another hurdle for small businesses is the complexity of federal contracts, which can be daunting to navigate. The House of Representatives recently passed a bill aimed at simplifying the language within federal contracts to make them more accessible and comprehensible to small businesses. This initiative seeks to level the playing field and enhance the competitiveness of smaller players in the federal contracting arena. (ibid)

Despite these challenges, the Small Business Administration (SBA) under Administrator Isabel Guzman has implemented initiatives to expand contracting opportunities for small businesses. This includes revising size standards to broaden access to agency programs, benefitting thousands of entrepreneurs across various industries. While progress has been made in meeting procurement spending targets for certain small-business categories, there is still work to be done to ensure that all small businesses have equitable access to federal contracting opportunities. (ibid)

Do you have questions about size standards or a particular upcoming opportunity? Please give us a call.

SBA aims to boost Black Business Dollars

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) aims to boost federal contracting dollars for Black businesses through an upgraded government contract training program and other initiatives. The agency is revitalizing its SBA 7(j) Training Program, now known as Empower to Grow (E2G), to enhance small, disadvantaged businesses’ readiness for federal contracting, as stated in a recent SBA press release. (Black Enterprise February 5, 2024)

This revamped program coincides with the release of new data from fiscal years 2022 and 2021, indicating record-breaking federal contracting dollars for small businesses across various demographics, including an uptick in contracting dollars for Small Disadvantaged Businesses. (ibid)

In line with these efforts, the Biden-Harris administration has announced measures to broaden small business access to federal contracts, recognizing the federal government’s significant purchasing power globally. The White House specifically acknowledges the E2G program when discussing strategies to bolster support for small businesses and ultimately building wealth in underserved communities. (ibid)

President Joe Biden has set an ambitious goal of allocating 15% of federal prime contracting to small, disadvantaged businesses (SDB) by fiscal year 2025, potentially injecting $100 billion into minority-owned and underserved businesses. (ibid)

The SBA underscores that the E2G program represents just one facet of comprehensive efforts by the Biden-Harris administration and the SBA to achieve the SDB goal. Already, these efforts have resulted in a half-billion-dollar increase in federal contracts awarded to Black-owned small businesses in 2023. (ibid)

SBA Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman emphasizes the role of small business growth in job creation and community strengthening, highlighting the administration’s commitment to equity and a level playing field for all small business owners. (ibid)

Despite progress, disparities persist, with Black-owned small businesses receiving $9.5 billion from federal contracts in 2022, up $490 million from 2021, while Native Americans captured $19 billion, up $1.62 billion from the previous year. However, these figures pale in comparison to the almost $163 billion spent on all federal contracts that year.(ibid)

Acknowledging these disparities, the SBA is actively addressing barriers to entry for Black businesses in securing government contracts. Additional resources are being allocated to assist more disadvantaged business owners, including Black firms, in overcoming these barriers. (ibid)

Program enhancements to E2G include customizable one-on-one coaching and expanded offerings tailored to the needs of Black-owned firms, with the aim of facilitating connections with state and local contracting opportunities.(ibid)

E2G will introduce new tools to access $2 trillion in state and local bid opportunities, further bridging the gap for Black-owned firms seeking state and local contracting opportunities. (ibid)

The SBA emphasizes that the program’s impact on contracting dollars for Black-owned businesses hinges on participation, with the bid win rate expected to rise due to the heightened emphasis on added E2G resources. (ibid)

Would you like to know more about the program enhancements, one-on-one coaching and expanded offerings of E2G? Give us a call.

Federal Government reaching even higher for Small Disadvantaged Businesses

Last year, small disadvantaged businesses received over 11% of federal contracting dollars. Now, the federal government aims to reach 13%. (Next Gov/FCW October 26, 2023)

The Office of Management and Budget recently issued a memo directing federal agencies to target awarding 13% of their contract spending to small disadvantaged businesses in fiscal year 2024. This objective aligns with a broader target set by an executive order earlier this year, which calls for the government to ultimately allocate 15% of federal procurement dollars to such businesses in fiscal year 2025. (ibid)

The executive order, focused on advancing racial equity and supporting underserved communities through federal government initiatives, also instructed the Small Business Administration to establish annual agency-specific goals in collaboration with other departments to further the government’s overall objectives for small disadvantaged businesses. (ibid)

In her October 18, 2023 memo, OMB director Shalanda Young emphasized that utilizing the federal government’s purchasing power to foster economic growth in underserved communities is a central element of the president’s equity agenda. It also aligns with the administration’s broader economic strategy to bolster small businesses and enhance the resilience of the nation’s supply chains. (ibid)

The memo states that federal agencies awarded small disadvantaged businesses a record-breaking $69.9 billion in fiscal year 2022, representing 11.4% of all contracting dollars and an increase of $7.5 billion compared to the previous year. (ibid)

While agencies also set records for spending on programs designed to improve access to contracts for historically underrepresented groups and small businesses in general, they fell short of the goals for the share of contracting dollars awarded to women-owned small businesses and historically underutilized business zone (HUBzone) small businesses, according to SBA data released earlier this year. (ibid)

Young also highlighted the significance of the 8(a) Business Development program at SBA, which serves as a gateway for expanding access to federal contracts for businesses that have faced past discrimination. She emphasized the need for agencies to continue promoting contract access for HUBZone businesses, women-owned small businesses, and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, as these often fall under the category of small disadvantaged businesses. (ibid)

In the past, the General Services Administration and SBA announced the establishment of a pool of small disadvantaged businesses in the 8(a) program to facilitate their access to contracts under GSA’s Multiple Award Schedule Program. (ibid)

Moving forward, OMB will collaborate with SBA, the Domestic Policy Council, National Economic Council, and other entities to advance efforts aimed at diversifying the government’s supplier base. This includes the adoption of innovative acquisition practices to reduce transaction costs for small businesses. (ibid)

Are you part of a small disadvantaged business seeking additional business opportunities with the government? Give us a call.

SBA Halts New Applications for 8(a) Program: What You Need to Know

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has put a temporary hold on accepting new applications for the 8(a) small business program. This move comes in the aftermath of a significant court decision that found parts of the program unconstitutional. (Washington Technology August 21, 2003)

The crux of the matter lies in the SBA’s utilization of the “rebuttable presumption” process, which allowed many companies to be certified as small, disadvantaged businesses without substantiating their social disadvantage. However, a recent court case, involving Ultima Services, a non-8(a) company, challenged this process. The court ruled in favor of Ultima Services, asserting that the use of rebuttable presumption violated their Fifth Amendment rights. Consequently, the SBA has been compelled to halt the acceptance of new 8(a) program applications. (ibid)

If your company was certified through the rebuttable presumption process, there are specific actions you must take to continue in the 8(a) program. The newly released guidance requires affected businesses to submit a “Social Disadvantaged Narrative.” This narrative should encompass the identities forming the basis of your social disadvantage, detailed accounts of discriminatory incidents related to education, employment, or business history, including dates, locations, parties involved, conduct details, and motivations behind the bias or discrimination. You should also elucidate how these incidents impacted your business progression. (ibid)

Existing applicants can proceed with their applications, though additional information might be needed. For those already within the 8(a) program, the narrative submission is not obligatory if previously completed. (ibid)

SBA is closely collaborating with the Justice Department to chart the course ahead in response to this court decision. Despite the temporary suspension of new applications, the agency is working on directives for agencies to continue awarding contracts to 8(a) firms. (ibid)

Remember, this situation is evolving. A hearing on August 31st could bring about changes, and SBA’s forthcoming guidance for contract awards to 8(a) firms remains eagerly anticipated. Furthermore, it’s important to note that the court’s ruling doesn’t affect 8(a) firms owned by Alaska Native Corporations or tribally-owned entities. They can continue business as usual. (ibid)

Stay tuned for updates as this story unfolds, and ensure you’re up to speed on the latest developments in the 8(a) program landscape. Should you have questions concerning the newly released guidance requirements, give us a call.

The SBA is serving our entrepreneurial veterans

Last Friday, the Small Business Association (SBA) announced that it would invest $3.5 million in grant funding to create veterans business outreach centers (VBOCs) in seven new locations, including Alaska, California, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, Nevada, and South Carolina. The purpose of this investment is to expand entrepreneurial training and counseling services for veterans and military spouses who own and operate small businesses. (ExecutiveGov April 24, 2023)

The VBOCs will assist veteran-owned small business in various aspects such as business planning, loan application, marketing and outreach efforts. Additionally, grants will be set up to support Boots to Business classes to help active duty service members transition and determine whether entrepreneurship is a practical transition strategy.(ibid)

Isabella Casillas Guzman, administrator of the SBA, stated that “with this expansion of our veteran-focused network of small business centers, we can help more transitioning service members, veterans, National Guard and Reserve members, and military spouses start and grow their businesses and advance our economy.” (ibid)

Interested in grant funding for your veteran owned small business? Give us a call.