Small Business Programs
In this section you will be introduced to several small business programs that may help your business become more competitive in the federal marketplace. The following information has been copied from the US Small Business Administration website. It is strongly recommended that you visit the SBA’s website to get the most recent information about these programs.
The following programs are reviewed in this article:
- 8(a) Business Development Program
- HUBZone Program
- Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses
- Small Disadvantaged Businesses
- Women-Owned Small Businesses
In order to help small, disadvantaged businesses compete in the marketplace, the SBA created the 8(a) Business Development Program.
What is the 8(a) Business Development Program?
- The 8(a) Business Development Program is a business assistance program for small disadvantaged businesses. The 8(a) Program offers a broad scope of assistance to firms that are owned and controlled at least 51% by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
- The 8(a) Program is an essential instrument for helping socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs gain access to the economic mainstream of American society. The program helps thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs to gain a foothold in government contracting.
- Participation in the program is divided into two phases over nine years: a four-year developmental stage and a five-year transition stage.
Benefits of the Program
- Participants can receive sole-source contracts, up to a ceiling of $4 million for goods and services and $6.5 million for manufacturing. While we help 8(a) firms build their competitive and institutional know-how, we also encourage you to participate in competitive acquisitions.
- 8(a) firms are also able to form joint ventures and teams to bid on contracts. This enhances the ability of 8(a) firms to perform larger prime contracts and overcome the effects of contract bundling, the combining of two or more contracts together into one large contract. Also, see the Mentor-Protégé Program for more information on allowing starting 8(a) companies to learn the ropes from other experienced 8(a) businesses.
The Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) program was enacted into law as part of the Small Business Reauthorization Act of 1997. The program falls under the auspices of the U.S. Small Business Administration. The program encourages economic development in historically underutilized business zones - "HUBZones" - through the establishment of preferences.
SBA's HUBZone program is in line with the efforts of both the Administration and Congress to promote economic development and employment growth in distressed areas by providing access to more federal contracting opportunities.
How the HUBZone Program Works
The SBA regulates and implements the HUBZone program. SBA does the following:
- Determines which businesses are eligible to receive HUBZone contracts
- Maintains a listing of qualified HUBZone small businesses that federal agencies can use to locate vendors
- Adjudicates protests of eligibility to receive HUBZone contracts
- Reports to the Congress on the program's impact on employment and investment in HUBZone areas.
Benefits of the HUBZone Program
The program’s benefits for HUBZone-certified companies include:
- Competitive and sole source contracting
- 10% price evaluation preference in full and open contract competitions, as well as subcontracting opportunities.
The federal government has a goal of awarding 3% of all dollars for federal prime contracts to HUBZone-certified small business concerns.
Eligibility for the HUBZone
Make sure to review the HUBZone Primer to understand the HUBZone requirements. To qualify for the program, a business (except tribally-owned concerns) must meet the following criteria:
- It must be a small business by SBA standards
- It must be owned and controlled at least 51% by U.S. citizens, or a Community Development Corporation, an agricultural cooperative, or an Indian tribe
- Its principal office must be located within a "Historically Underutilized Business Zone," which includes lands considered "Indian Country" and military facilities closed by the Base Realignment and Closure Act
- At least 35% of its employees must reside in a HUBZone
The HUBZone office has a 35% and principal office calculator that you can use; but please make sure that before you use it, you review the HUBZone regulatory definition for the terms “principal office” and “employee.”
The Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999 (Public Law 106-50) established an annual government-wide goal of not less than 3% of the total value of all prime contract and subcontract awards for participation by small business concerns owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans.
On December 16, 2003, the Veterans Benefits Act of 2003 (Public Law 108-183) was passed by Congress. Section 308 of the Act established a procurement program for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Concerns (SDVOSBC). This procurement program provides that federal contracting officers may restrict competition to SDVOSBCs and award a sole source or set-aside contract where certain criteria are met.
Purpose of the SDVOSBC Program
The purpose of the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Concern Procurement Program is to provide procuring agencies with the authority to set acquisitions aside for exclusive competition among service-disabled veteran-owned small business concerns, as well as the authority to make sole source awards to service-disabled veteran-owned small business concerns if certain conditions are met. (See Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 13 C.F.R. § 125.8-125.10).
In order to be eligible for the SDVOSBC, you and your business must meet the following criteria:
- The Service Disabled Veteran (SDV) must have a service-connected disability that has been determined by the Department of Veterans Affairs or Department of Defense
- The SDVOSBC must be small under the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code assigned to the procurement
- The SDV must unconditionally own 51% of the SDVOSBC
- The SDVO must control the management and daily operations of the SDVOSBC
- The SDV must hold the highest officer position in the SDVOSBC
Since October 2008, small businesses can self-represent their status as a small disadvantaged business (SDB). You do not have to submit an application to SBA for SDB status. To self-represent as an SDB, register your business in the System for Award Management. However, you and your firm must still understand the SBA eligibility criteria for SDBs.
Generally, this means that:
- The firm must be 51% or more owned and control by one or more disadvantaged persons
- The disadvantaged person or persons must be socially disadvantaged and economically disadvantaged
- The firm must be small, according to SBA’s size standards
On October 7, 2010, the U.S. Small Business Administration published a final rule effective February 4, 2011, aimed at expanding federal contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses (WOSBs). The Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract program authorizes contracting officers to set aside certain federal contracts for eligible Women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) or Economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSBs)
To be eligible, a firm must be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more women, and primarily managed by one or more women. The women must be U.S. citizens. The firm must be “small” in its primary industry in accordance with SBA’s size standards for that industry. In order for a WOSB to be deemed “economically disadvantaged,” its owners must demonstrate economic disadvantage in accordance with the requirements set forth in the final rule.
Women Owned Small Businesses may elect to use the services of a Third Party Certifier to demonstrate eligibility for the program, or they may self-certify using the process outlined here on this website. SBA will only accept third party certification from these entities, and firms are still subject to the same eligibility requirements to participate in the program.