Women Who Showed Up

By Ann Sullivan
WIPP Chief Advocate

When reviewing the election results in this year’s November elections, my initial reaction was that it was no big deal – the Democrats got some wins that weren’t expected in an off-election year. So what? My second thought was that Democrats would take these wins and blow them out of proportion – citing an electorate mandate for Democrats. I also expected that Republicans would shrug their shoulders, calling it an anomaly, and go about their tax reform plan.

But what I missed the first time around was the major story—the large number of women that ran and won. Equally fascinating are the stories about their motivations to run.  Since hearing WIPP’s annual meeting speaker, Jennifer Lawless who heads the American University’s Center for Women and Politics, I haven’t stopped talking about the importance of women leading this nation. It is my firm belief that women in office will change the trajectory of partisan politics regardless of party affiliation.  While much of the media centered their attention on the racial diversity and sexual orientation of these women, the fact is their victories also speak to the underrepresentation of women in local, state and federal offices.

There were some serious victories for women in Virginia. A record number of women were on the ballot in Virginia—53 to be exact, up 18% from the previous 45. In the Virginia House of Delegates, the number of women increased about 50%. There will be 27 women serving in the lower chamber next session (1 race is still too close to call).

In New Jersey, women also showed up on the ballot, with 79 on this cycle, which is a 10% increase from 2013. But the numbers are not just impressive- there were many “firsts” during this election cycle for women, as well as women of color.

Milledgeville, Georgia elected its first Black female mayor, Mary Parham-Copelan. Santa Barbara, California, elected its first Latina Mayor, Cathy Murillo. Aurora, Colorado elected Crystal Murillo, a 23-year-old recent graduate who defeated a 79-year-old incumbent. New Jersey elected its first Black lieutenant governor, Sheila Oliver. Charlotte, North Carolina elected its first black female mayor, Vi Lyles. Manchester, New Hampshire elected its first female mayor, Joyce Craig. Seattle elected a woman mayor, Jenny Durkan. Topeka, Kansas elected its first Latina and second woman mayor, Michelle De La Isla.

The stories behind these wins are inspirational.  Ashley Bennett who won a County council seat (called Freeman in NJ) was motivated to run after hearing the incumbent “joke” that women belong in the kitchen.  She told the Washington Post that his meme in reference to the March on Washington asked, “Will the woman’s protest be over in time for them to cook dinner?” When she complained to her family, they encouraged her to run for the seat.  She won.

Or Vi Lyles, the first African American female mayor of Charlotte, NC who outworked her opponent even though she was outspent.  Saying that Charlotte should be the city of opportunity and inclusiveness, she cited her father’s lack of a high school diploma.

Seattle picked a female mayor Jenny Durkan. The significance in that race was that it was an all-woman mayoral slate in a major US city.

Michelle De La Isla, the new mayor Topeka, Kansas came to office in an environment which would have discouraged most.  Homeless at 17 and pregnant at 19 in Puerto Rico, her degree at Wichita State University propelled her life in a different direction.  She told the New York Times, “All these experiences I’ve turned into blessings,” Ms. De La Isla said. “It’s easier to serve people when you’re not judging them from the get-go.”

The nonpartisan She Should Run organization says 15,000 women have inquired about running for office this year – a record number.  Given that there are around 500,000 elected positions in the United States to fill, 15,000 inquiries seems like a drop in the bucket but a good start.  Not everyone has to run, but women are needed to assist in campaigns and provide much needed financial support for those who are.

Ashley Bennett, cited above gave some advice to women who are considering running for office.  “Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s not your turn,” she said. “If you’re fearful about it, do it afraid and see it through. Because you never know what could happen.”

Our time is now.

October Policy Watch: Taxes, Budget & More

WIPP Government Affairs

GOP Releases Tax Reform Proposal: What’s in it for you?

Congress has finally taken the long-awaited steps toward implementing tax reform. GOP leaders released their framework for tax reform in a proposal entitled, “Unified Framework for Fixing Our Broken Tax Code.” Provisions pertinent for small business in the plan include:

  • Limits the maximum rate applied to pass-through entities to 25% (currently 39.6%)
  • Reduces the corporate rate to 20% (currently 35%)
  • Consolidates the seven individual tax brackets to three: 12%, 25%, and 35%
  • Allows room for Congress to add a fourth bracket for high income earners
  • Repeals the Estate Tax
  • Repeals the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
  • Eliminates taxes on the first $24,000 of income earned by a married couple and the first $12,000 of income earned by a single individual (currently $12,700 for married filers and $6,350 for single filers)
  • Eliminates the standard deduction and personal exemption for filers
  • Allows businesses to expense the cost of new investments in depreciable assets for five years
  • Partially limits the deduction for net interest expense incurred by C corporations
  • Eliminates some itemized deductions (but does not specify which provisions)
  • Eliminates § 199 manufacturing deduction
  • Retains tax benefits for retirement security (401K, IRA)
  • Implements territorial tax system

House Ways and Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady (R-TX) attended the WIPP Annual Leadership Meeting Luncheon to talk about the plan and to answer questions from members.

Finalizing the Budget: Why Does It Matter?

If both the House and the Senate do not pass an FY2018 Budget, the GOP tax reform framework cannot pass in its current form. Congress hopes to pass tax reform though reconciliation, a process that allows the Senate to pass budget-related legislation with a simple 51 majority vote, instead of the 60 votes typically required. The GOP has a 52-48 majority in the Senate. If the budget resolutions do not pass, the tax reform package negotiated by the Administration and GOP Congressional leaders would require at least eight Democratic votes.

Last week, the House passed their FY2018 Budget Resolution, H. Con. Res. 71, which contains reconciliation language that directs the House Ways and Means Committee to begin drafting tax reform legislation. The House resolution provides $300 billion over 10 years to pay for tax reform. The Senate Budget Committee also passed their FY2018 Budget Resolution.  The Senate resolution contains reconciliation language that provides the Senate Finance Committee with $1.5 trillion over 10 years for tax reform.

The bill will be taken up by the Senate when they return from recess next week.

SBA Issues Notice of WOSB NAICS Changes

SBA is responsible for implementing and administering the Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Program. The WOSB Program authorizes federal contracting officers to restrict competition for an acquisition to WOSBs, provided that appropriate conditions are met. In order to identify the industries eligible for set-asides under the WOSB Program, the SBA administrator has to conduct a study every five years to identify which industries WOSBs are underrepresented in in the Federal marketplace. As a result of the 2014 study findings, SBA increased the number of NAICS codes authorized for use under the WOSB Program to 113 four-digit NAICS industry groups, effective March 3, 2016. Consequently, WOSBs have been able to compete for and receive contract awards in 92 four-digit NAICS industry groups or 365 six-digit NAICS codes. EDWOSBs have been able to compete for and receive contract awards in 21 designated four-digit NAICS industry groups or 80 six-digit NAICS codes, in addition to those authorized for WOSBs.

On August 8, 2016, OMB published its most recent update to the NAICS industry groups, NAICS 2017, “Notice of NAICS 2017 final decisions.” These went into effect on January 1, 2017. In order to align the WOSB Program with the Notice of NAICS 2017 final decisions and SBA’s adoption of NAICS 2017 for its size standards, SBA is issuing this notice to amend the NAICS codes eligible for use under the WOSB Program.

Changes to WOSB NAICS

  1. 2012 NAICS codes 333911 and 333913 à 2017 NAICS code 333914 [Due to merges from the four digit codes]
  • 333911: Pump and Pumping Equipment Manufacturing à 333914 Measuring, Dispensing, and Other Pumping Equipment Manufacturing
    • Measuring and Dispensing Pump à Measuring, Dispensing, and Other
  • 333913: Manufacturing à 333914 Pumping Equipment Manufacturing
  1. 2012 NAICS codes 512210 and 512220 à 2017 NAICS code 512250 [Merged Industries]
  • 512210 Record Production à 512250 Record Production and Distribution
  • 512220 Integrated Record Production/Distribution à 512250 Record Production and Distribution
  1. 2012 NAICS code 517110 à 2017 NAICS code 517311
  • 517110 Wired Telecommunications Carriers à 517311 Wired Telecommunications Carriers
  1. 2012 NAICS code 517210 à 2017 NAICS code 517312 [Changed without changing definitions or titles]
  • 517210 Wired Telecommunications Carriers (Except Satellite) à 517312 Wired Telecommunications Carriers (Except Satellite)
  1. 2012 NAICS code 541711 will correspond to 2017 NAICS codes 541713 and 541714 [New industries were created by splitting two industries into two parts with one part of each industry defined as a separate industry and combining other parts of the two industries to form a separate new industry]
  • 541711 Research and Development in Biotechnology will correspond to 541713 Research and Development in Nanotechnology and 541714 Research and Development in Biotechnology (except Nanotechnology)
  1. 2012 NAICS code 541712 will correspond to 2017 NAICS codes 541713 and 541715
  • Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences (except Biotechnology) will correspond to 541713 Research and Development in Nanotechnology and 541715 Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences (except Nanotechnology and Biotechnology)

How Government Contractors Can Handle Changes to the Project Schedule

If you missed Misty Mayes’ GIVE ME 5 webinar last week on Changes to the Project Schedule, you can check it out here.

The Give Me 5 Program, named after the 5 percent federal contracting goal for women-owned businesses, was created by Women Impacting Public Policy

Misty Mayes

and American Express OPEN to educate women business owners on how to apply for and secure federal procurement opportunities. 

Management Solutions’ founder and CEO Misty Mayes dedicates her time and energy to multiple programs that champion excellence in project management, small business, mentoring and community. She is a regular on the speaking circuit across the country, speaking on various aspects of project management, as well as other motivational topics. Misty serves as co-chair on WIPP’s Leadership Advisory Council, co-chair of WIPP’s healthcare committee and chair of WIPP’s membership committee.

For more information on Misty and her work at Management Solutions, please visit www.managementsolutionsllc.com. 

WIPP’s NSBW Photo Contest Runner-Up, Rockin’ Bakers, Offers a ‘Breaducation’

A veteran of the consumer packaged goods industry, Daymara Baker had a vision for creating a business that puts a social mission above profit. Founded two years ago, Rockin’ Baker Academy in Fayetteville, Ark., serves up tasty treats while providing a “

RockinBakers.jpg

Founded two years ago, Rockin’ Baker Academy in Fayetteville, Ark., serves up tasty treats while providing a “breaducation” for workers who have a hard time entering the job market due to poverty, intellectual disabilities, or other disadvantages.  The entrepreneurial nonprofit provides training on food safety and baking, as well as “soft skills” such as teamwork, accountability, communications and customer service. Rockin’ Baker Academy was runner-up in Women Impacting Public Policy’s photo contest for National Small Business Week this spring.

“I wanted to do something that would sell but that also would be welcomed by the community,” Daymara said. “There needed to be a place for people who have a hard time finding a job and needed a second chance.”

 

Daymara founded a 501c3 nonprofit organization and a 501c4 public-benefit corporation that funnels proceeds from the bakery to the nonprofit. The 501c4 organization allowed her to seek a small-business loan to jumpstart the project, which opened with a storefront in November 2016. After just eight months in operation, Rockin Baker has three full-time employees, one part-time worker and a volunteer.

Beyond her enterprising spirit, Daymara said being a woman has contributed to her success in opening a socially minded business. “As women, we have a higher level of empathy,” she said. “By nature, we are more emotionally connected to what we are trying to achieve.”

Because the academy is a virtually unheard-of concept locally, Daymara said the bakery is developing a loyal customer base that not only eats, but donates. The project also has expanded to offer over-the-counter breakfast and lunch goods.

“When they learn why I am doing this and that we are not just a bakery, they are feeling good about themselves because they are helping somebody else,” she said.

For more information, visit rockinbakeracademy.org.

WIPP July Partner of the Month: Pam Mazza

Pam Mazza, managing partner of PilieroMazza PLLC in Washington, D.C., serves on WIPP’s board of directors and has been a strong supporter of the organization for years through her leadership and generous contributions of time and fiscal support. Pam is one of WIPP’s inaugural “Trailblazers,” a group of women who contributed $10,000 to support our education and advocacy work in Washington, D.C. on behalf of women business owners

It’s thanks to people like Pam that WIPP thrives. Thank you, Pam!

 

Q Tell us a little about your company and its mission.

A PilieroMazza is a full-service, woman- owned law firm in Washington D.C. working primarily with government contractors nationwide. Our principle practice areas include labor and employment law, general corporate counselling, litigation and all aspects of government contracting including a strong understanding of small business and socio-economic programs. We are committed to keeping our clients abreast of pending legislation, regulations or case law that might impact the operations of their businesses, and to working with clients to apprise lawmakers and regulators of the potential impact of any proposed changes. Our goal is to help our clients nurture and grow their businesses and to build long-lasting, personal relationships.  We do our best not only to identify issues and obstacles but to develop practical, cost-effective approaches to overcoming them. We pride ourselves in being accessible, affordable and efficient in assisting with our clients’ needs.

Q Have you always been an entrepreneur? If not, what inspired you to take the leap? 

A I grew up in this firm. I was a law clerk, an associate, then a junior partner. Shortly after I became a junior partner, the managing partner and rainmaker of the firm, Dan Piliero, passed away suddenly at the age of 48 and I had a decision to make about the future of the firm. Lawyers are supposed to have their ducks in a row, but since I had just become a junior partner, we didn’t have an agreement covering this situation. It was a stressful time but after weighing the options and working with his estate, I was able to buy the firm.  That was in 1991. The short answer is I was young at the time and hadn’t thought that far ahead about what I would ultimately do. But I quickly became an entrepreneur and I’ve been sitting in this chair ever since!

Q What challenges did you encounter that you had to overcome as a business woman and what have you learned from them?

A  I think that as the years go by, the challenges are fewer and fewer because of the reputation we’ve developed. But back when I took over the practice, I did have a very big concern: the controlling person at a lot of the companies we represented was a male and I didn’t know how they were going to react to me taking over. Would they stay or leave? I was fortunate because though a few moved on, many stayed.

I feel like I have probably had a better experience than many women I know. I see the challenges my woman-owned business clients face. Depending on the industry, it can be very hard for women in government contracting to break in. Many industries and agencies still function under the good-old-boy system and it’s hard for a woman entrepreneur to get her foot in the door. I see women struggling for recognition of their talents; struggling to have people look past their gender and consider their technical capabilities.

I think there also might be challenges when you look at the differences between males and females in leadership roles. A tough male boss is viewed as a solid taskmaster, but if you have that same personality as a female you’re viewed differently. We’ve got to continue to figure out how to co-exist.

I think my main advice is probably to keep pushing through, get your job done, don’t get wrapped up in the prejudices and figure out how to work around them.

Q Do you have a success story that you are particularly proud of? Tell us about it.

A I’m really proud of the law firm we’ve built and I think the firm is my biggest success. We employ 42 people, including 24 lawyers. We had eight when I took over. We have high-quality attorneys who are committed to what we do and the clients we serve. We try to make certain that every client has a good experience. We make certain they understand our different practice areas so they can find the person who can provide them with the knowledge and help they need. I learned many years ago that the clients who stay are the ones who know more than one person at our firm. So, I try to make sure every client has good relationships with and access to more than one lawyer.  It’s unusual for a small firm like ours to maintain such a diverse practice and to be competitive with large and small law firms and I am very proud of what we’ve built, the principles we maintain and our reputation within the government contracting community.

Q What tips would you share with other women pursuing entrepreneurship?

A It’s important to follow your dream but also to understand your market. Before you jump in, make sure you know what your potential is, what your industry is, who your customers are, and make absolutely certain that you vet your business partners. Whether they are co-owners, teaming partners or key employees, make sure you have the same ethics, the same ideas, and that you agree on expectations. That means putting it in writing. Those kinds of business relationships can go sour quickly, and the best thing to do is think things through at the beginning so there’s a roadmap if they do.

Q What obstacles do you think are the hardest for women business owners to scale? 

A Scaling a business requires financial resources, a dedicated staff and a wise business plan.  Women entrepreneurs still have trouble with access to credit and capital, which can hinder attracting and retaining the key employees necessary to take a business to the next level.  I do believe the situation has improved over the past decades but I still see clients who struggle with these challenges.  I also suspect that many women still struggle with juggling their roles as mothers—which is critically important—with their roles as entrepreneurs, which is also a critical role. Both jobs require much effort and I do not believe that many women can accomplish both to their satisfaction, especially when trying to scale a business. I don’t care what anyone says, no one can be super woman all the time and each of us needs to strike the most comfortable balance for ourselves.

Q Tell us about your experience as a WIPP member. What resources and value has WIPP provided that has been helpful to you and your company?

A I love being on the WIPP board. I have met so many interesting women and am developing better, deeper relationships with them every day. We share tips, send referrals, and are all working together to build our advocacy effort to make it a better place for women entrepreneurs. It’s a very meaningful experience for me.

As far as resources, all the networking is fantastic. Also, WIPP’s resources like the Give Me 5 program, the annual conferences, networking opportunities and the legislative initiatives have been very valuable to many of our clients.

Senate Small Business Committee Highlights Tax Burdens on Small Businesses

Last week, the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee took up one of the most important issues for Congress this year—tax reform. The committee held a hearing on tax reform to address the code’s current barriers to small business growth. Witnesses testifying before the Committee included Mark Mazur, director of Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, Annette Nellen, chair of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), and Brian Reardon, president of S Corporation Association.

Both the majority and minority voiced the importance of the small business voice when considering tax reform. Chair James Risch (R-ID) began the hearing by pointing to a grim fact: tax compliance costs are 67% higher for small businesses. Due to these extraordinary costs, roughly 89% of small business owners have to rely on outside assistance to comply with the tax code. As we all know, time is money. Ranking Member Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) commented on the length and complexity of the tax code, pointing out that small businesses spend 2.5 billion hours complying with IRS rules. These hours are valuable time wasted on compliance that could be used for growing a business.

Too Much Time and Too Much Money

Questions from members of the committee centered around the increased burdens and costs of tax compliance that small businesses experience. Annettee Nellen from AICPA highlighted in her testimony that tax relief should apply to all businesses, not just C-corps. This is at the core of WIPP’s policy recommendations: to reform the tax code to make deductions and credits equitable, no matter the structure of the company. Mark Mazur, director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, added that the current tax system is “woefully” out of date as it applies to business income. In changing the tax code, Congress will have to look at how different the economy is today from the last time the code was revised, he advised. As pointed out in WIPP’s 2017 Economic Blueprint, pass through entities are subject to a top individual tax rate of 43.4%, and with state and local tax rates ranging up to 13.3%, this significantly hampers business growth.

Institutional Barriers for Women

Ranking Member Shaheen referenced research conducted by WIPP and American University’s Kogod Tax Policy Center. “The last time the tax code was updated, there were only four million women-owned small businesses,” said Shaheen. “Today, there are 11.3 million, making up 38% of firms in this country.” She noted that Congress does not have enough information on women-owned businesses citing the Kogod study, Billion Dollar Blind Spot, asking the panel how Congress and the administration can improve the tax code for women business owners. Mazur agreed, noting that additional resources should be allocated by the IRS to determine barriers for women-owned businesses.

There is certainly agreement from both sides of the aisle that it is time for a change when it comes to tax reform and that the concerns of small businesses should be taken into consideration. This was the first of many conversations that will take place on this critical issue.

To read the written testimony from the hearing, click here.

To read the WIPP and Kogod tax study, click here.

To read WIPP’s 2017 Economic blueprint, click here.

The White House Budget and Small Business

By Jennifer White, WIPP Advocacy Team

On Tuesday, the president’s full budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2018 was released. The numbers below outline proposed funding changes for Small Business Administration programs, as well as the justifications sent to Congress on specified funding changes on our blog.

As a reminder, the president proposes and Congress appropriates. Congress will be making the final funding decisions. Here are WIPP’s recommendations for Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations.

Need to brush up on the budget process? Click here for WIPP’s webinar on the issue.

FY18 White House Budget Proposal

Program

FY17 Funding
(in millions)

FY18 Request
(in millions)
WBC 18 16*
PRIME 5 0*
HUBZone 3 2.5*
Microloan TA 31 25
Microloan Lending 44 36
CDFI Fund 248 14*
7(a) guarantees 23.5 billion 29 billion
NWBC 1.5 1.5
SBDCs 125 110*


* WBC justification by SBA to Congress

The FY 2018 request strengthens SBA outreach center programs by reducing duplicative services, coordinating best practices, and investing in communities that will benefit from SBA’s business center support. As a result, the SBA is confident that it will be better positioned to strengthen local partnerships and more efficiently serve program participants while achieving savings over the FY 2017 Enacted levels.

* PRIME justification by SBA to Congress

The PRIME program’s function and activities are not discernibly different from many other SBA entrepreneurial assistance programs such as Microloan technical assistance, the Women’s Business Center program, or the Small Business Development Center program. In particular, while the PRIME program is designed specifically for micro-level businesses, it is less targeted than the Microloan program’s technical assistance funding which supports micro-borrowers with both microloans and other support from the intermediaries. In addition, the SBA has been strengthening its partnerships with major U.S. banks, as well as community lenders, to help them to deliver billions more in financing to under-served communities.

* HUBZone Justification by SBA to Congress:

Following an FY 2017 development effort to enhance HUBZone maps, SBA anticipates decreased development needs for this effort in FY 2018.

* CDFI Justification by SBA to Congress

Unlike other CDFI Fund programs, the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program (BGP) — enacted through the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 — does not offer grants, but is instead a zero-subsidy federal credit program, designed to function at no cost to taxpayers. Under the BGP, the secretary of the Treasury provides a 100% guarantee of long-term bonds issued to CDFIs, with a maximum maturity of 30 years. The BGP does not require discretionary budget authority for its credit subsidy, but the annual loan guarantee limitations are appropriated. Through September 30, 2016, Treasury had issued $1.1 billion in bond guarantee commitments to 17 CDFIs that have supported investments in low-income and underserved communities, including for the development of multi-family rental properties, charter schools, and healthcare facilities. The budget proposes to extend and reform the BGP through 2018 with an annual commitment limitation of $500 million and a minimum individual bond size of $50 million, while maintaining strong protections against credit risk.

* SBDCs justification by SBA to Congress

The FY 2018 request strengthens SBA outreach center programs by reducing duplicative services, coordinating best practices, and investing in communities that will benefit from SBA’s business center support. As a result, the SBA is confident that it will be better positioned to strengthen local partnerships and more efficiently serve program participants while achieving savings over the FY 2017 Enacted levels.

FY18 Legislative Proposals PROPOSAL

SBDC and WBC Data Collection

Currently, Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) and Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) collect data on each individual and small business to whom they provide counseling and training services. Except for the limited purposes identified in the Small Business Act, SBDCs and WBCs may not disclose to SBA certain information (e.g., name, address, telephone number) that they collect. However, the SBA needs access to this type of information to be able to contact the individuals or small businesses to determine their level of success after receiving counseling and training assistance. Disclosure of the information to SBA would greatly enhance the agency’s efforts to conduct rigorous program evaluations, including the impact of the counseling and training on those who received such assistance, identify best practices, and improve efficiency of the SBDC and WBC programs. As a result, SBA is proposing to add program evaluations and similar program assessments to the list of allowable purposes for which the data may be disclosed to SBA.

Writing YOUR Success Story

By Linda McMahon, SBA Administrator

Once upon a time….

It’s the classic opening to our favorite fairy tales. As children we dream of magic potions and knights in shining armor that will provide our happily ever after. How were we to know thalinda-mcmahon-high.jpgt our own hard work, skill and determination could be far more effective?

Once upon a time, my husband and I started our business sharing a desk. As he developed our product and expanded our markets, I managed the books. When the work became too much for the two of us to handle ourselves, we hired our first employee. As our business grew, we hired another. Then another. Over decades of hard work growing our business, that company we created now has grown to a publicly traded enterprise with more than 800 employees and consumers in 180 countries worldwide.

As an entrepreneur, I have truly lived the American Dream: the classic tale of taking a risk on an idea, working hard and creating something from nothing. Don’t get me wrong – we had plenty of stumbles and challenges that provided the plot twists along the way. But it’s a story I am always proud to tell.

And as head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, my goal now is to help more people have the opportunity to live the American Dream.

Yet many aspiring entrepreneurs have no idea how to get their stories started or write their next chapters.

The SBA is here to help, with resources both online and in communities from coast to coast.

During National Small Business Week, as we celebrate the 28 million small businesses that drive our nation’s economy, we also showcase the resources and services the SBA provides to entrepreneurs at every stage, whether they are starting up, expanding or getting through a tough time.

The SBA has 68 district offices and an extensive network of resource partners across America, including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. The experienced professionals that staff these offices offer a core group of services that we call the “three Cs and a D” – capital accesscounselingcontracts, and disaster assistance.

Many entrepreneurs need capital to start or expand their small business, combining what they have with other sources of financing. While the SBA doesn’t loan money directly to small business owners, it helps facilitate loans with a guaranty that a certain portion will be repaid. We offer counseling on starting, scaling and succeeding in business, from how to draft a business plan to how to export your product overseas. And we train small businesses on how to compete for government contracts, especially those set aside exclusively for small business owners. Finally, SBA provides a helping hand to small businesses recovering from disasters.

As I think back on my own story as a small business owner, I wonder how much easier things might have been if we’d been aware of the many valuable services SBA provides. My hope is that as more people learn about the SBA, they will have the confidence, skills and resources they need to succeed as small business owners, and we can continue to revitalize a spirit of entrepreneurship in our country.

There’s room for far more success stories in our library.

And the SBA can help more entrepreneurs write their own “happily ever after.”

Linda McMahon serves as the 25th Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

 

 

 

Washington has many great traditions but this one must go

By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate

If you keep a close eye on Washington from year to year, you’ll notice some traditions that always take place. The annual White House Easter Egg Roll in the spring, when children gather to race eggs with wooden spoons down the South Lawn. The Congressional baseball game in the summer, when House Republicans face off against House Democrats at the Nationals park to raise money for charity.

And, of course, the talk of a looming government shutdown any time the previous funding mechanism is about to run out—a tradition that affects so much more than the District of Columbia.

We’ve heard it before and we’ll hear it again—If Congress doesn’t find a way to fund the government, it will shut down. In true fashion, with the deadline to pass a bill set for last Friday, April 28, Congress gave itself a little more time by passing a week long Continuing Resolution—until May 5, without altering the terms or conditions that apply to funding.

And then—a welcome break in tradition. Congressional negotiators in a bipartisan fashion, finalized a $1.1 trillion spending bill, keeping the government funded through September.

While a government shutdown rarely actually happens—when it does—it is not good for women business owners. In fact, it isn’t good for anyone. When federal contractors can’t get paid, they can’t pay the people who work for them. When they can’t pay the people who work for them, they can’t produce any work. The contractor suffers, the jobs she’s created suffer, and the economy suffers.

However, some contractors don’t have the option of laying off their employees during a shutdown. WIPP Board Chair Lisa Firestone struggled with this firsthand. In 2013, Lisa testified before Congress about the negative impact that year’s shutdown had on her business, as well as other women federal contractors. Because her company provides “essential” services, her employees continued to work and get paid during the duration of the government shutdown that year. Despite knowing she eventually would get paid from the government, there was no way to know when. She’s not the only one.

Many small business owners face this same problem and face the stress of preparing to maximize available cash in advance of a potential shut down. Between the options of a shutdown and a Continuing Resolution, a Continuing Resolution is the lesser of two evils. But, it may not be so great for women contractors either.

Continuing resolutions curb new government spending and, thus, new government projects. We know firsthand from our members that operating under a Continuing Resolution results in project delays as well. Since many agencies can’t open expired contracts for new bids, they often turn to uncompetitive bridge contracts with existing vendors to keep services moving. The problem is, according to the Department of Commerce, women-owned firms are 21% less likely than their male-owned counterparts to win government contracts. Given this significant barrier to entry, access to contracts is further exacerbated by this method of procuring goods and services.

The impact of a shutdown is harsh on contractors. If the government is your customer, the consequences are immediate. The Department of Homeland Security in the 2013 shutdown issued a warning to its contractors: “…as a consequence of the lapse, certain planned procurements may be canceled and certain existing contracts may be stopped, reduced in scope, terminated or partially terminated.” Not to mention, the chaos created with respect to lending. Since lenders rely on the IRS to verify income, lending was stopped dead in its tracks.

Let’s get rid of this tradition. Successful businesses plan ahead and so should Congress. The wide-reaching consequences spurred by Congressional inaction of a timely budget are significant. Contracts that aren’t funded by prior appropriations and aren’t essential probably will be put on hold during a shutdown – while contractors that are essential will have to continue to work, but while having to bear the cost of their employees’ salaries. The business community should be spending all of its capital expanding, not saving up for a possible government shutdown. Despite the good news for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2017, the fight has just begun for Fiscal Year 2018. It’s time for Congress to put together a plan to fund the government without worry of a shutdown or relying on Continuing Resolutions again and again so entrepreneurs can worry about what matters – running their business.

SBA Administrator McMahon makes first appearance before a Congressional committee

By Jennifer White, WIPP Government Relations

Small Business Administration Administrator Linda McMahon talked about her plans for the agency during her first official hearing with the House Small Business Committee on April 5. From the start, Administrator McMahon made clear that her goal is to raise the profile of the agency, in hopes of renewing the spirit of entrepreneurship in America.

“Becoming administrator has been a lot like assuming the position of CEO – trying to evaluate employees and practices and figuring out what’s working and what’s not. My first town hall address was to let folks know that I want this to be the best SBA that’s ever been,” said McMahon.

Throughout the hearing, committee members showed interest in working with the administrator and addressed hard-hitting topics for WIPP – including access to capital, healthcare, tax reform, and regulations. Below are highlights:

  • Access to capital
    • In response to inquiries on improving access to capital for women, McMahon said one of her main focuses would be to ensure that more women apply for loans. McMahon plans on providing counseling to women entrepreneurs creating a business plan. She also said she believes SBA can work to increase the number of women in lending positions when asked about the lack of Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) investments to women-owned firms. SBICs are licensed by the SBA to supply small businesses with both equity and debt financing. Increasing women in lending positions is a point highlighted in the WIPP Economic Blueprint.
  • Healthcare
    • The administrator supports the creation of association plans across state lines offered to small businesses, which WIPP supports. McMahon, referring to HR 1101, which recently passed the House, believes this change to the healthcare market would reduce premiums for small business owners.
  • Tax reform
    • Administrator McMahon wants small businesses to receive similar tax treatment as large businesses, another position WIPP outlines in its Economic Blueprint.
  • Regulations
    • The administrator supports reforming regulations to reduce the burden and costs placed on small businesses. She believes the first step is to look at what regulations are really necessary and go from there. WIPP cites the need for reliable policies and regulations in the Economic Blueprint, as well.

Only two months into her position, the administrator is in the early stages of making the progress she wants to. But, between her enthusiasm for the positions outlined here and the committee’s readiness to work with the administration, it is certain there will be lots to watch for in the coming year.

To watch the full hearing and read Administrator McMahon’s written testimony, click here.