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Question: How can small businesses leverage assistance from the federal government?
The federal government wants to help and promote small businesses – especially small businesses that:
- Are owned/controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals (8(a) Program);
- Are located in a Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone);
- Are owned/controlled by a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (“SDVOSB”);
- Women-Owned Small Businesses (“WOSBs”); and
- For opportunities through the Department of Veteran Affairs, SDVOSB, and Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (“VOSB”).
If you are a small business and qualify under one of these categories, you have a significant advantage in doing business with the federal government.
SBA 8(a) Program
The SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program, named after Section 8(a) of the Small Business Act, is designed to help small, minority, disadvantaged businesses compete for government contracts. In order to be eligible for the 8(a) program, the small business concern must be owned and controlled at least 51% by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. The program generally lasts nine years, during which time a program participant is allowed to take advantage of numerous rules and regulations enacted specifically to increase contract opportunities for 8(a) small business concerns.
This program allows federal agencies to set aside certain federal contracts for eligible WOSBs. An additional category of Economically Disadvantaged WOSBs (EDWOSB) allows women with certain additional criteria further program benefits.
The SDVOSB program has specific requirements as to how the participant company is to be structured and operated. To be eligible as an SDVOSB, the subject company to be at least 51% owned by one or more Service-Disabled Veterans (SDV), an SDV must control the management and daily operations of the company, and an SDV must hold the highest officer position in the company.
The Veteran’s First Contracting Program is run by the Department of Veterans Affairs and is specific to procurements conducted by the VA. The Veteran’s First Contracting Program gives first priority in VA procurements to SDVOSB, followed by Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (VOSB), to set-aside and sole-source contracts. To be eligible for the Veteran’s First Program, the SDVOSB or VOSB must first register with the VA and apply for verification of its SDVOSB or VOSB status. A firm cannot represent SDVOSB or VOSB status on a VA procurement unless it has first been verified by the VA.
To be eligible for HUBZone certification, your business must be located within a HUBZone, and at least 35% of your employees must be residents of a HUBZone. To determine HubZone areas, you can use this SBA HUBZone Map.
For more information on these programs, visit the General Counsel, P.C. website. You can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Craig Lawless, who leads the firm’s GovCon legal practice. Craig can be contacted at email@example.com