Small businesses winning more government contracts; but not enough contracts reaching women and rural entrepreneurs

(Washington, DC) – Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the lead Democrat on the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, today commented on the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) annual assessment of how well federal agencies are meeting small business federal contracting goals.

“The federal government is the world’s largest buyer of goods and services, and selling to the government can be an especially important growth opportunity for small businesses in New Hampshire and across the country,” said Shaheen.  “The good news is small businesses and entrepreneurs are winning more awards with federal agencies, but I remain concerned that not enough contracts are reaching women and rural entrepreneurs who disproportionately benefit from the chance to compete.”

According to SBA, in 2016 the federal government reached its small business federal contracting goal for the fourth consecutive year, awarding 24.34 percent in federal contract dollars to small businesses – a total of $99.96 billion ($9 billion more than the previous year). 

However, small business contracts awarded to women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) and businesses located in SBA’s Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program each declined from 2015.  A recent study showed women entrepreneurs are at a disadvantage when competing for federal contracts.  The odds of a women-owned small business receiving a federal contract are 21 percent lower than other businesses. 

In 2015, contracts to women-owned businesses exceeded the 5 percent goal required by law for the first time in history, so I am disappointed that progress stalled in a critical contracting program meant to help women entrepreneurs.  While women make up more than half our population, only 30 percent of businesses are owned by women.  I will continue to press SBA for additional contracting opportunities for women-owned businesses, as well as rural entrepreneurs so that more underrepresented small businesses have a chance to grow and thrive,” Shaheen added

Last month, Shaheen introduced the Invest in Rural Small Business Act to expand the reach of SBA’s HUBZone program and its ability to be a targeted economic development tool.  She has also championed the Women’s Small Business Procurement Parity Act, a 2014 law designed to boost opportunities for women-owned firms to sell to the federal government.