The following was edited by Dylan Lowe from a presentation by the author
In the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak most small businesses have been scrambling to get as much information as possible about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), both loan programs administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA). But what many business owners may not know is that the SBA has been providing assistance to American businesses affected by disasters and disadvantages for 66 years and has many more programs, in addition to PPP and EIDL loans, available right now. The SBA has over 1,400 partner offices in the US and is paid for by your tax dollars. All you need to do to start working with them is to go to SBA.gov/local-assistance to find your local office and ask them for help. All SBA programs are of no additional cost to you (beyond your tax dollars) and SBA advisors and consultants (government employees) are financially incentivized to help you. So reach out.
Introducing Federal Contracting
The scope of federal contracting overseen by the SBA would most likely surprise you. Fairly simple to apply to (similar to applying to EIDL or PPP) and encompassing nearly every industry, government contracting has given many businesses affected by COVID-19 a path to survival. The fact is the U.S. government is the world's largest customer and buys products and services across nearly every industry, to learn more go to SBA.gov/contracting. To determine if your business is eligible visit certify.SBA.gov where you can find SBA's certification portal where you can submit requested documents to seek SBA certifications. As an overview, the SBA is looking to support businesses who fall under at least one of the following categories: woman-owned, disadvantaged, HUBZone Businesses (aka those in disadvantaged neighborhoods), and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses.
Below we will go into more detail about the program for woman-owned small businesses and the HUBZone program.
The Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) program allows businesses with 51% female ownership and no minimum time in business to take advantage of this program. The other requirements for a business to qualify are:
- Personal net worth (assets minus liabilities) less than $750,000.
- Three year average income of $350,000 or less.
- Fair market value of all assets is $6,000,000 or less.
The general overview of benefits of this program are:
- Qualify for set-aside or sole source contract awards – increasing prime and subcontracting opportunities.
- Opportunity to build capacity and grow by establishing Joint Ventures and participating in the All Small Mentor-Protégé Program.
- Access to training, management and technical assistance programs, guaranteed loans and bonding assistance.
The HUBZone Program supports businesses in Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone). To qualify, the business must meet the following requirements:
- 51% of the business owned by U.S. citizens.
- Principal office located in a HUBZone.
- 35% of all employees reside in a HUBZone.
You may be surprised how much of the country is in a HUBZone. To find out if your business is located in such a zone use this tool.If you would like see a giant searchable list of all government contracts currently available to see if there are any you may be able to fulfill, click here.