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Feds Break Contracting Record for Women-Owned Businesses
USAgNet - 03/04/2016

Maria Contreras-Sweet, Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration, was joined by Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to the President, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY-07), Ranking Member of the House Small Business Committee, Representative Judy Chu (D-CA-27) and Representative Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17) Thursday to announce that the federal government has surpassed its five percent contracting goal for Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) for the first time in history.

"Meeting this goal means five percent is no longer our ceiling but our foundation upon which to build," said Contreras-Sweet. "A recent SBA-commissioned study revealed women-owned businesses already employ eight million American workers, but when it comes to receiving contracts and capital, women are still under-represented. That's why the SBA has added 36 new industry categories where women can now compete for set-aside contracts and sole-source awards. This will dramatically expand contracting opportunities for women-owned businesses, paving the way for new jobs and industries to be created."

Contracting accomplishments announced include:

-- In 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 SBA Administrator, Contreras-Sweet has made it a top priority to increase federal contracting opportunities for Women-Owned Small Businesses.

-- 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 4th consecutive year, the federal government exceeded the goal for SDVOSBs, achieving 3.93 percent or $13.8 billion of all federal small business eligible contracting dollars. SDBs received 10.06 percent or $35.4 billion of all small business eligible contracting dollars, the highest percentage in history.

A recent report commissioned by Contreras-Sweet showed that WOSBs are underrepresented or substantially underrepresented in 113 North American Classification System (NAICS) groups. These findings will be used to expand opportunities for women-owned businesses and provide a broader range of industries for contracting officers to find eligible women-owned businesses.

In April 2013, WIPP, American Express OPEN and the SBA partnered to launch ChallengeHER, a national initiative to help boost government contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses.

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