WIPP Works in Washington – June 2018

Adding the Voice of Women Business Owners in Addressing the Skills Gap

Ann Sullivan,                 WIPP Chief Advocate

At a recent meeting with women business owners—midsize and small–they pointed out shortages in the workforce that presented a present and future issue.  The concerns ranged from finding truck drivers and master electricians to highly skilled technical personnel.  Business owners aren’t the only ones talking about the shortages in the workforce, Congress and the Administration are concentrating on strategies to fill what is known as the “skills gap.”

The Obama Administration workforce development priorities focused on promoting community colleges and their two-year, associates degree tracks as a valid alternative to four-year degree programs, as well as encouraging partnerships between community colleges and employers.

The Trump Administration is focusing its efforts on apprenticeship.  Last year, President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO), “Expanding Apprenticeships in America,” which would provide industry associations, unions, and other stakeholders the flexibility to develop industry-recognized apprenticeships, loosening the Department of Labor regulations on apprenticeship programs.  The Administration’s Executive Order also doubled the amount of money for apprenticeship grants, from $90 million to almost $200 million a year. Additionally, the order establishes a new Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion, chaired by the Secretary of Labor and co-chaired by the Secretaries of Education and Commerce. It would also include representatives from industry, labor, and educational institutions.

Congress is also taking a hard look at the skills gap. In a recent House Small Business Committee hearing, “Workforce Development: Closing the Skills Gap,” the committee discussed career and technical education (CTE), as well as apprenticeships as a strategies to addressing the lack of qualified, skilled workers needed by business and industry. Other Committees on both sides of Congress are also trying to figure out how to chip away at this issue.

WIPP members come to the workforce development issue from two angles:  one as an employer and one as a woman who likely experienced additional challenges in the workplace.  We are sensitive to making sure women are an important part of the workforce and treated fairly.  The article “10 facts about American women in the workforce,” highlights particular issues that women struggle with such as the wage gap, labor participation rates and paid maternity leave.

In fact, the President’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, has also brought forth the struggle with childcare as a priority issue for this Administration— with good reason. Most young children in the U.S. have parents who work outside the home or are business owners. According to the Brookings Institute, in 56% of married families with children under six, both parents work.  For single mothers the employment rate is 6%. Childcare is a necessity for these families, and unfortunately often unaffordable in the United States. Working families are spending on average between 29% to 52% of their take-home pay on childcare costs, yet the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services concludes that affordable childcare should not exceed 7% of family income.

Workforce development is a new issue to WIPP’s policy team and we welcome your thoughts and experiences.  Our goal is to ensure that the voice of women business owners is part of the discussion in both Congress and the Administration.  Businesses of all sizes share a common goal of building America’s workforce to adapt to the economy of tomorrow.  Women as business owners should be taking the lead in this effort by taking steps from strengthening women’s participation in STEAM, to being visible in the highest positions in business and industry.  There is so much work to do and our voice is critical to the solution.

Seven Small Business Bills Approved by the House of Representatives

This month, the House voted to pass seven of nine small business bills under suspension of the rules— a procedure used to quickly pass non-controversial bills. The seven bills that passed:

  • Small Business Development Center Cyber Training Act (H.R. 3170):  The Small Business Administration would offer cybersecurity and related planning assistance. The bill would require the SBA to train Small Business Development Center employees in counseling small businesses on cybersecurity questions.
  • Change Order Transparency for Federal Contractors Act (H.R. 4754):  Small business contractors and subcontractors seeking bids for federal construction projects would receive improved information from agencies including performance data and policies on change orders.
  • Women’s Business Centers Improvements Act (H.R. 1680):  The Office of Women’s Business Ownership’s responsibilities would be modified and it would be authorized to make larger grants to women’s business centers.
  • Small Business Development Centers Improvement Act (H.R. 1702): The SBA’s Small Business Development Center grant program would be modified and given new reporting requirements.
  • Spurring Business in Communities Act (H.R. 4111):  The creation of new Small Business Investment Companies in underserved states would be promoted under this bill.
  • Main Street Employee Ownership Act (H.R. 5236):  Employee cooperatives would become eligible for loans backed by the Small Business Administration. The bill would also allow loans to be made to a small business to facilitate employees’ purchase of the firm. The measure also would require additional agency outreach to promote employee purchase of companies.
  • Small Business 7(a) Lending Oversight Reform Act (H.R. 4743):  The Small Business Administration’s Office of Credit Risk Management would be codified and given new oversight responsibilities for the 7(a) program.

The two bills that did not pass were Small Business Advanced Cybersecurity Enhancements Act (H.R. 4668), which would create a central small business cybersecurity assistance unit and small business cybersecurity assistance units in each small business development center, and the SCORE for Small Business Act (H.R. 1700), reauthorizing the SCORE program.

WIPP Works in Washington – May 2018

“Grow – Don’t Grow”

Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate

We’ve all experienced a difficult friend or boss who tells you “do this” and then when you do it, they say “no I didn’t mean it that way.”  Then you spend the next hour trying to undo the thing they told you to do in the first place. Frustrating, right? 

That is largely what the federal government has been telling small businesses who enter public sector contracting.  The message to small businesses is “grow.”  The SBA and its stakeholders pour significant resources into helping small businesses succeed.  Those range from SBA District offices in every state, lending and counseling programs and support for programs like ChallengeHER that WIPP sponsors.

Organizations like WIPP encourage their members to think about federal contracting as a complement to commercial business.  We have spent an inordinate amount of resources promoting policies such as the women-owned small business contracting program, subcontracting and acquisition strategies designed to provide more opportunities for the government to buy from women-owned firms.

But then, the government says “wait don’t grow” by implementing a pretty rigid system of determining when a company is too big to be small.  SBA determines this by a system called size standards.  The government determines the average size of business revenue in industry categories and sets a size that a business cannot exceed in order to take advantage of small business contracting programs.  The SBA then takes the average of the last three years of your revenue, deciding whether you are small or have exceeded the size standard, bumping you into being a midsize company.  Ouch.

This is exactly the position WIPP Chair, Lisa Firestone finds herself in.  She testified at a House Small Business Committee hearing on the challenges larger small businesses face when approaching the top of their size standard. Lisa testified on behalf of WIPP, telling her story of watching her company, Managed Care Advisors go from a small boutique healthcare consulting company to the leading provider of Federal Workers’ Compensation Case Management Services. She grew a four-person company to facing a daunting dilemma of growing beyond the $15 million size standard for her industry.

Witnesses at the hearing, “No Man’s Land: Middle-Market Challenges for Small Business Graduates,” discussed the issue of options available to small businesses who reach the top of their size standard.  Should they stay small, sell their business or venture into a midsize company that has to compete for government business with the 110 very large companies? According to Bloomberg Government’s recent report, Mid-Tier Market Report: 2018, only 325 companies have made the decision to be a midsize vendor to the federal government.  This is in contrast to the 118,000 small businesses who sell to the federal government.

How can this trend be reversed?  The Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, a WIPP partner in the initiative, “Pathway to Growth” proposes the following recommendations:

  1. Agency: Bring Multiple Award Contracts (MAC) requirements in line with the capabilities of midsize firms. It is essential to sustain midsize businesses participation on these MACs to diversify the types of businesses engaging in the federal market.
  2. Regulatory: Require a five-year look-back for the purpose of Small Business Administration (SBA) size determination. Due to the long contract award process and significant size of task orders, small businesses can quickly outgrow their size standard without having the time and resources to invest in firm infrastructure. This change would allow businesses a smoother transition by changing the receipt calculation by using the lowest three of these preceding five years of receipts, to determine the average.
  3. Legislative: Deduct research and development (R&D) expenses and expenditures from total revenue for size determination. This recommendation supports the government’s initiative to stimulate innovation and allows companies to pursue and develop new products and processes, without undue penalty.

The execution of these proposals would set the record straight: small business owners should grow their business – and those that do should not be penalized for that growth but supported by our federal government. It’s time to end the mixed signals.

Entrepreneurs shine during National Small Business Week

By Linda McMahon, SBA Administrator

Through awards ceremonies, media interviews and community events, we honor entrepreneurs whose achievements stand out. As an entrepreneur myself, I know the hard work that goes in to starting and building a small business – efforts that don’t often get the attention they deserve.

Honorees in this week’ spotlight do not cast a shadow that dims the efforts of others; rather they serve as a beacon – to competitors, up-and-comers and communities as a whole. They show what is possible. They are innovators and problem solvelinda-mcmahon-high.jpgrs, creating products and services that are better, smarter or more efficient than what came before. They are risk takers. And through their success, they inspire others to dream and to create small businesses of their own.

Small businesses contribute so much to our communities and economy. They create two out of every three net new jobs in the private sector. More than half of all Americans either work for or own a small business. Entrepreneurs are not only making a living for themselves, they are making their neighborhoods vibrant places to live and work and contributing to our nation’s economic strength.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is so proud to have been a part of small businesses’ success for 65 years. Since 1953, the SBA has been supporting entrepreneurs with the tools they need to succeed. The Agency – through its headquarters in Washington, DC; its 68 district offices nationwide; and resources partners like Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, Veterans Business Opportunity Centers and SCORE chapters – serves entrepreneurs at every stage of their lifecycle. It guarantees loans for entrepreneurs who can’t get capital from other sources, mitigating a lender’s risk. It offers counseling on starting and scaling a business, from how to draft a business plan to how to export products overseas. It trains small businesses to compete for government contracts. And it helps those recovering from a declared disaster get back on their feet.

Whether they are starting up, expanding or getting through a tough time, the SBA is the nation’s only go-to resource for small business backed by the strength and resources of the federal government. It powers the American Dream. And the SBA is working to make that dream accessible to more Americans by modernizing its application processes, improving online resources, and streamlining how technology is used to deliver services more efficiently and effectively.

National Small Business Week honors entrepreneurs who have used these resources to make their lives and their communities better. And the SBA shines a light on their achievements, I hope it will illuminate the path for even more aspiring entrepreneurs following in their footsteps.


Linda McMahon serves as the 25th Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. As a member of President Trump’s cabinet, she advocates on behalf of the 30 million small businesses in America, which employ nearly half of all American workers and account for 56.8 million jobs.

 

April Policy Watch #HillUpdate: The House Has Been Busy Tackling IRS Reforms, Financial Rules, the Next NDAA & More

HSBC Chairman Chabot Urges Inclusion of Small Business Bills in FY19 NDAA

Last week before the House Committee on Armed Services, Chairman Steve Chabot of the House Small Business Committee urged members to incorporate a package of 13 bipartisan small business bills in the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. The bills include legislation addressing SBA loan programs and technical assistance programs such as Women Business Centers, small business lending, cybersecurity, government contracting, and other issues impacting small business.

Read a full accounting of bills included in the package can be found here.

Watch Chairman Chabot’s testimony.

Legislation to Reform & Modernize the IRS Makes it Out of House Ways & Means

The House Ways and Means Committee last week approved the passage of the Taxpayer First Act (H.R. 5445), legislation sponsored by Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and ranking member John Lewis (D-GA). The bill would improve the independent appeals process, taxpayer services and enforcement. It also updates the IRS and Tax Court structure.

Click here to learn more about the legislation and other recent bills relating to IRS reform passed out by the House Ways & Means Committee.

House Passes Bill to Ease Financial Regulations with Goal of Improving Lending

The House approved H.R. 4790, the Volcker Rule Regulatory Harmonization Act by a vote of 300-104. The legislation would exempt banks with total assets of $10 billion or less and comprised of 5% or less of trading assets and liabilities from the Volcker Rule. The rule prohibits banking agencies from engaging in proprietary trading or entering into certain relationships with hedge funds and private-equity funds. The bill would also grant exclusive rulemaking authority under the Volcker Rule to the Federal Reserve Board. The intent of the legislation is to alleviate the compliance burden on small banks, which would help improve capital markets and lending, especially to small business.

Read more

With Possible Trade War Looming, HSBC Holds hearing on the State of Trade for Small Business

The House Small Business Committee heard from a panel of business owners and experts on the state of international trade for small businesses. The hearing’s focus was the State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Grant Program and the federal government’s overall efforts to increase small business exports. However, with tariffs proposed by the administration and discussion of a possible trade war with China, witnesses highlighted how recent activity would impact their businesses and small business exporters at large.

Read submitted testimony or watch the full hearing here.

April Policy Update

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FY2018 Omnibus Spending Package Signed into Law

On March 23, President Donald Trump signed a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill for FY2018—10 percent higher than FY2017 due to the budget agreement reached last month by lawmakers.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) received $18 million less than in FY2017.  SBA received $247 million for entrepreneurial development grants including $130 million for Small Business Development Centers; $18 million for Women’s Business Centers; and $11.5 million for the SCORE program. SBA’s business loan program will have new authority to guarantee $29 billion in 7(a) loans.

For government contractors, passage of this bill means a compressed procurement and grant cycle. The new Fiscal Year started in October but has just now been funded. That means agencies have one quarter instead of four to procure goods and services.

Here is a chart of WIPP’s FY2018 appropriations requests and what was included in the FY2018 Omnibus bill signed by the president.

FY2018 Entrepreneurship Funding Update

Small Business Administration – Financial Services and General Government Appropriations

Program FY17 Enacted FY18 WIPP Requests  

FY18 Omnibus

Microloan Program:  Lending $44 million $44 million  

$36 million

Microloan Program:  TA $31 million $31 million  

$31 million

PRIME $5 million $10 million $5 million
Women’s Business Centers $18 million $21.75 million  

$18 million

SBA Office of Advocacy $9.22 million $9.3 million  

$9.12 million

 

Small Business 7(a) Lending Oversight Reform Act of 2018 Unanimously Approved in Both the House & Senate Small Business Committees.

Legislation (H.R.4743/ S.2283) to increase the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) oversight authority over the 7(a) loan program for the purpose of improving the efficiency and reach of the program, passed both the House and Senate Small Business Committees. The Small Business 7(a) Lending Oversight Reform Act of 2018 would:

  • Strengthen SBA’s Office of Credit Risk Management by outlining in statute the responsibilities of the office and the requirements of its director
  • Enhance SBA’s lender oversight review process, including increasing the office’s enforcement options
  • Require SBA to detail its oversight budget and perform a full risk analysis of the program on an annual basis
  • Strengthen SBA’s Credit Elsewhere Test by clarifying the factors that must be considered

Read the House Small Business Committee’s Press Release here.

Chabot Supports Bill to Ensure Small Contractors Get Paid Quickly

House Small Business Committee Chair Steve Chabot (R-OH) released a statement recently in support of Rep. Steve Knight’s (R-CA) bill, the Accelerated Payments for Small Businesses Act, encouraging federal agencies to make payments to small business prime contractors within 15 days of sending an invoice.

Read Chair Chabot’s statement here.

National Small Business Week Virtual Conference

SBA has partnered with the SCORE Association to offer a NSBW Virtual Conference which will take place May 1- May 3, between 12:30pm ET and 6:30pm ET each day. The conference will offer 12 educational webinars, mentoring sessions, networking opportunities and resources in a three-day event. You will hear from industry experts, such as Visa, Google, Chase, Constant Contact, Square and more. They will share insider tips on various aspects of online marketing, financing, customer service, cybersecurity among other topics.

Register for the NSBW Virtual Conference here.

SBA Office of Advocacy to Host a Regulatory Reform Roundtable and a NAFTA Outreach Meeting in Atlanta

Next week, the SBA Office of Advocacy will be hosting a Regulatory Reform Roundtable and a NAFTA Modernization Outreach meeting for small business owners in order to gain insight into which specific federal regulatory burdens present the biggest barriers to small business growth and get input on possible NAFTA changes.

Meeting will be held:

  • Tuesday, April 10, 2018: Regulatory Reform Roundtable at 8:30am with a special focus on environmental regulatory issues at 2pm
    • Location: GTRI Conference Center, 205 14th Street, NW, Atlanta, GA
  • Wednesday, April 11, 2018: NAFTA Modernization Outreach meeting at 9:00 a.m. for small business owners.
    • Location: Georgia Department of Economic Development, 75 5th Street Northwest, 10th floor, Atlanta, GA.

To register for these meetings, visit SBA’s website.

National Women’s Business Council Releases Reports on Crowdfunding

The National Women’s Business Council released two new research reports on success factors for women business owners access to small business finance, finding that the first 30 days of crowdfunding campaigns matter the most and personal stories play a vital role in reaching fundraising goals. The reports also showed that while it helps to have large network, the way you leverage that network to help you with funding your business is equally important to your success at raising money.

Read the press release and access the reports here.

Yvonne Ballard: Construction Mode

I graduated from Turner Construction’s 12-week Construction Management Course on November 15, 2017. It was a great accomplishment for my brand!

The program refreshed important aspects of the industry that I learned in college about 12 years ago, and it’s good to know that some of the same rules apply. Plus, I was able to learn a lot about new and improved safety measures, validating contracts, teamwork and project management. And I loved the feeling of good intent from others!

As a minority, I’ve seen a lot of programs that say they offer support, but in truth there are a lot of risks: bad customer service, unlimited loopholes, and being degraded for asking for help.

Turner, on the other hand, has a genuine team that is motivated by good will, and a support system to help my brand sustainability. The class had a culture of diversity and offered business opportunities to partner for more work. This was an awesome experience especially since my goal is to align my brand and expertise with like-minded developers so I can style the interior spaces of new structures.

During the months leading up to graduation, I attended another great event called ChallengeHER. I wasn’t sure how I would apply it to my business, but the name grabbed my attention. The September 2017 ChallengeHER event was held at the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA), a familiar place that supported me years ago. The program offered a plethora of education for women-owned small businesses, procurement leads and a directory of face-to-face supporters. The link directly related to my certifications and gave me the confidence to approach new business ventures.

Looking back, it reminded me of when I began activating my gift into a career mindset in 2004. Initially, the odds were against me. At the time I was a young mother of three children with very little income. I enrolled in the Section 8 program at CMHA; this gave me the opportunity to attend college. I also qualified for daycare vouchers to send my children to school. It was the beginning of a great start for my independence, education and a better outcome for our future success.

We rented a little purple house at the time. The owner initially didn’t want to accept the Section 8 voucher, but I shared the benefits and promised to be a great tenant. We closed the deal. I practiced my design projects in that house. I later purchased a bigger home from the same owner with the assistance of the Section 8 homeownership program.

I was the first of my immediate family to own a home and complete college. I majored in interior design. My mindset was, and still is, “If I get an opportunity for support subsidies, I don’t use them to get comfortable but use them to further my education or improve my family situation—use them to improve our livelihood.” Even having faced discrimination, I maintain by focusing on the outcome.

Having a mindset to acknowledge support as an opportunity to propel forward and not as a crutch to get comfortable has afforded me nothing but success as a wife, mother, homeowner, college graduate, and entrepreneur. My objective is to be an inspiration to my family and community. That, in turn, enhances my drive.

Yvonne Ballard

President/Owner of NOVE home&body decor LLC

novedecor.com/about

Tax Withholding Guidance Released

Taxes 2.jpegThe IRS recently released a notice providing the 2018 income tax withholding tables, showing the new rates for employees. The tables reflect changes made by the tax bill that was signed into law last month, including the increase in the standard deduction, repeal of personal exemptions, and changes in tax rates and brackets. They are designed to work with the Forms W-4 that employees have already filed with their employers.
The IRS is directing employers to implement the new withholding tables as soon as possible, but no later than February 15, 2018. This guidance is the first of several items that the agency plans to release this year in order to simplify the transition of the new rules.
For the IRS’s FAQ on the Tax Withholding Timetables, click here.

Need For 7(a) Lending Addressed in CR

WIPP and SBALinda 2.jpgAdministered by the Small Business Administration, the 7(a) loan program is a loan guarantee program designed to encourage lenders to provide loans to small businesses that might not be able to otherwise obtain financing. During the first half of FY17, the 7(a) loan program saw an increased demand with approvals 9% higher than in the first half FY16. This lead Congress to include an appropriations provision to increase the program’s authorization limit to $27.5 billion for FY17 from $26.5 billion in FY16.

The just passed continuing resolution to fund the government included a provision on the program. It authorized SBA to use more funding so they could administer the 7(a) program with increased demand.

2018 will be a big year for WIPP. Please join us!

January Letter From WIPP President Jane Campbell

Happy New Year!

Washington was hit by a deep freeze at the beginning of January, causing a bit of a slow start for Congress. But national politics has already resumed its’ torrid pace.

Jane Campbell photo

WIPP President Jane Campbell

Don’t worry, Women Impacting Public Policy, with cool heads and thoughtful deliberation, will continue to advance and advocate for meaningful public policy that has a positive impact on women business owners. 

We are off to a great start. This week, we held an informative and well-attended policy briefing to help our members understand the intricacies and impacts of new developments, like the tax law, in Washington. This will be a new monthly series where members can ask WIPP’s Chief Advocate Ann Sullivan and me questions about the rapidly shifting policy landscape.

On top of our policy work, we are planning a new series of ChallengeHER events across the country to deliver the information and connections women need to succeed in government contracting. We are also busy lining up an informative slate of GiveMe5 webinars to provide members with government contracting knowledge delivered by experts in the field. From taking the first steps into contracting to learning what to do once you’ve landed a big government contract, these webinars are an indispensable resource!

As you can see, WIPP is on track to accomplish many amazing things this year. But it’s your voice and membership that makes us powerful in Washington. And it’s more important than ever that women entrepreneurs make their voices heard. After all, if we are not at the table, we will only get the scraps.

WIPP is a nonpartisan organization that brings women from all walks of life and both sides of the aisle together to speak with one voice about what women in business need to succeed. Please consider joining us today.

Jane Campbell
WIPP President