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The Latest News in Economic Development

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On March 2, 2016, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that the federal government has surpassed its 5 percent contracting goal for Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) for the first time in history. In fiscal year 2015 (FY15), 5.05 percent or $17.8 billion of all federal small business-eligible contracting dollars were awarded to WOSBs, the first time this specific benchmark has ever been reached. Since taking over as administrator of the Small Business Administration, Maria Contreras-Sweet has made it a top priority to increase federal contracting opportunities for WOSBs. “Meeting this goal means 5 percent is no longer our ceiling but our foundation upon which to build,” Contreras-Sweet said.

The SBA will also use the results of a recently completed study to enhance the Woman-Owned Small Business Program. The SBA-commissioned study revealed that women-owned businesses already employ eight million American workers, but when it comes to receiving contracts and capital, women are still under-represented. The study also showed that WOSBs are underrepresented or substantially underrepresented in 113 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) groups. As a result of these findings, the SBA has added 36 new industry categories where women can now compete for set-aside contracts and sole-source awards. The new categories will be added to over 80 existing categories to provide a broader range of industries for contracting officers to find eligible businesses owned by women. Contreras-Sweet said, “These categories will dramatically expand contracting opportunities for women-owned businesses, paving the way for new jobs and industries to be created."

The announcement of the success of the WOSB Program was reported along with other results achieved by the federal government in expanding opportunities for small businesses during FY15. Other contracting accomplishments announced on March 2 include:

  • The federal government surpassed its 23 percent small business procurement goal for the third year in a row, awarding an all-time high of 25.75 percent—or $90.7 billion—in federal contracts to small businesses. These contracting funds support more than 537,000 jobs and have a significant impact on job creation, innovation, and growth in communities throughout the country.
  • Federal contract dollars awarded to Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs) and Small Disadvantaged Businesses (SDB) also reached historic highs. For the fourth consecutive year, the federal government exceeded the goal for SDVOSBs, achieving 3.93 percent ($13.8 billion) of all federal small business eligible contracting dollars. SDBs received 10.06 percent ($35.4 billion) of all small business eligible contracting dollars, the highest percentage in history.

"Small businesses often get too little credit for their work as our nation's leading job-creators, generating nearly two out of three net new jobs in our economy," Contreras-Sweet said. "Last fiscal year the federal government awarded its highest percentage of contracting dollars to small businesses in the history of the United States, totaling more than $90 billion. Those resources supported more than half a million jobs in communities across this country. When these federal dollars churn in local communities, they create a multiplier effect that strengthens the local tax base and leads to better government services and better schools.”

The Institute’s Women’s Business Center of North Carolina (WBC) provides training and assistance to women seeking to develop or grow a business. The WBC is a partnership program between the SBA and The Institute. It is funded by a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. Visit the WBC webpage for more information.