SBA Program Provides Women-Owned Businesses Greater Access to Government Contracts

The Small Business Administration's Women's Procurement Program Rule could provide easier access to $500 billion worth of federal contracting opportunities.

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All access: SBA Administrator Karen Mills, seen with President Obama, says a new program to boost government contracts to women will help the overall economy.After being stalled for nearly 11 years, the Small Business Administration's Women's Procurement Program Rule was put into effect earlier this month -- potentially providing easier access to $500 billion worth of federal contracting opportunities for women-owned businesses.

The new rule dictates that women-owned businesses must account for 5 percent of government contracts, up from the current 3.4 percent. Eligible businesses must be at least 51 percent owned and controlled by women who are U.S. citizens, to enjoy deals of up to $3 million in many industries and up to $5 million in the manufacturing sector.

The Women's Procurement Program came under review again when President Obama signed the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, which brought uniformity back to many of the SBA's small-business contracting programs. Administration officials emphasized that the new program will receive the same attention as any other small-business contracting program, an issue that buzzed throughout the Women in Public Policy Annual Leadership Conference in late September. At the conference, WIPP released its "Economic Blueprint: The Women Business Owners' Platform for Growth," which highlighted the procurement program and acts as WIPP's official stance about the particular challenges women-owned businesses face that need to be addressed by elected officials.

SBA Administrator Karen Mills noted the need to boost contracting opportunities to women-owned firms, as a way to boost the overall economy. "Women-owned businesses are one of the fastest growing sectors of our nation's economy, and even during the economic downturn of the last few years, have been one of the key job creation engines in communities across the country," she said in a statement. "Federal contracts provide critical opportunities for owners of small firms to take their business to the next level and create good-paying jobs."

The program will take full effect in early 2011.

Tags: contracting opportunities, government contacting, government contracts, Karen Mills, News, Obama small business, Small Business Administration, Small Business Jobs Act, women business, Women in Public Policy, women-owned businesses, Womens Procurement Program Rule

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