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

ChallengeHER Success Story: Neva Gardner Won’t Be Fenced In

Neva Gardner never expected to own a successful fence construction company let alone work directly with the U.S. government.

Yet, since 2004, the Idaho businesswoman has made major in-roads with Homeland Security and other agencies by strategically pursuing opportunities to compete, building a coast-to-coast reputation, and staying on top of regulatory shifts in the complex world of federal contracting.

Neva has twice served as a panelist at free ChallengerHER events in Boise, Idaho, to share her experience navigating a system that historically has fallen short of targets set for working with women contractors. The workshops organized by Women Impacting Public Policy, the Small Business Administration and American Express OPEN, are designed to be a one-stop-shop for connecting women-owned businesses with organizations and other resources to successfully pursue federal contracts.

In addition to launching as a woman-owned business to differentiate her company, Neva established a “set aside” as a service-disabled military veteran by joining the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) program for socially or economically disadvantaged business owners.

Of her interactions with ChallengeHER participants, Neva said, “Several women asked me how I did this or that, and it encouraged them to follow through with things they already knew or it got them thinking, ‘Oh, I can do that.’ Everything I have, I had to work for. Just because I had a ‘set aside’ doesn’t mean I had people knocking down my door for a contract.”

Neva founded Purgatory Fence Company in 2004, remaking a previous fence business her husband, Gary Plumlee, had started under a different name. “I had built fences with a baby on my back, and then started to realize that maybe I better help in a bigger way.”

Neva started going after government jobs once she learned the highly technical process of successfully completing bids. As president and CEO, Neva has largely kept the company away from commercial and residential projects, opting instead for federal agencies that provide steady work and pay invoices in a timely fashion.

“We started with barbed wire and built fences for the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service,” she said. “Then, we got into a lot of chain-fence and high-security projects for military installations.”

Getting approved for the General Services Administration’s 8(a) Schedule was a boon as there are not many fencing companies that carry that designation. But, as she has warned ChallengeHER participants, “Don’t ever put all your eggs in one basket. We never said we can only do 8(a) contracts. We still look out there on the Federal Business Opportunities website. We do market research.”

Another key to success has been keeping costs low and responding only to bids her company actually has the capacity to tackle, typically contracts of $500,000 or less that don’t merit hiring a project manager, Neva said. Purgatory’s primary employees are still Neva and her husband, and they prefer to hire subcontractors near the locations where they earn contracts rather than employ a full-time crew.

ChallengeHER events provide a venue for Neva to lend useful guidance to other women building a federal contracting enterprise. In addition to helping them understand how to start the process and market their businesses, she encourages them to be thoughtful about their trajectory—wisdom that she did not have the benefit of when she got into federal contracting.

“I had to figure it out on my own. I never had anybody teach me. I just did my research and moved forward,” Neva said. “We started the company with a credit card, and everything was borrowed. Now we’re a multi-million-dollar company. We live in a small rural market yet we travel all over the country doing jobs. You have to figure out who you want to be. You can still be small and do big dollars.”

2017: A Banner Year for WIPP & Women Business Owners

WIPP was busy this year educating policymakers, women business owners, the media and the public about what women business owners need to succeed. From bringing women entrepreneurs directly to some of the most powerful lawmakers in the country, to meeting women entrepreneurs where they live and do business to educate them on how to bolster their businesses, WIPP was at the forefront of issues impacting women in business in 2017.

A sampling of our (many) accomplishments are highlighted below:

Educating Thousands of Women Business Owners Nationwide

  • WIPP held 12 ChallengeHER events in cities across the country, training more than 2,100 women on the best practices for success in federal contracting; including 5 match making events with federal agencies and primes.  WIPP has educated more than 10,000 attendees through its classes that range from those who are new to the process to those highly experienced. Learn more about ChallengeHER, and read about some of the success stories that have come out of the program.
  • WIPP produced 30 Give Me 5 training webinars increasing the free, on-line curriculum to approximately 120 downloadable recordings.  Reaching over 3,000 people this year, these training webinars were taught by industry specialist and federal contracting experts.
  • More than 200 women business owners joined WIPP and Chicago Treasurer Kurt Summers for a discussion on venture funding and women owned small business. The discussion explored how to encourage venture capital investment in women, the process of lending for SBICs, and how women business owners can approach venture capitalists.

Impacting Policy at the Highest Levels

  • The president signed the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law, which includes a provision directing the Small Business Administration to study small business participation on Multiple Award Contracts. The SBA study is in response to a WIPP report revealing that women small business owners are being shut out of large government contracts. Learn more about WIPP’s study.
  • WIPP surveyed 515 WIPP-affiliated women business owners nationwide on how they use the tax code and worked with American University’s Kogod Tax Policy Center to use the survey data to research how the tax code impacts women business owners. The survey data – together with Kogod’s review of existing tax research on the topic – suggests that many women-owned companies are unable to fully access more than $255 billion worth of tax incentives Congress has designed to help small businesses. The study was picked up exclusively by the Associated Press and was featured in hundreds of papers across the country. Learn more about the report in an op-ed WIPP President Jane Campbell authored in Entrepreneur magazine.
  • WIPP brought women business owners to Washington to testify at tax hearings and help inform the framework for the House Small Business agenda.
  • WIPP’s Economic Blueprint, which outlines a range of economic policy recommendations lawmakers can follow to help women entrepreneurs thrive, was featured in Forbes. Read WIPP President Jane Campbell’s op-ed outlining WIPP’s Economic Blueprint in The Hill.
  • WIPP secured powerful politicians to speak at WIPP’s annual conference so they could hear directly from women business owners on what they want out of Washington. Lawmakers included House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), House and Senate small business committee tax experts and Senate Small Business Committee leadership.
  • WIPP’s advocacy efforts throughout the tax reform debate—which included submitting comments to the Senate Finance Committee urging parity for pass through entities and repeal of the estate and AMT taxes—were instrumental in securing a pass-through carve out, along with the agreement to double the estate tax exemption from the current $5.6 million per individual to $11.2 million ($22 million for couples). WIPP members authored op-eds, letters to the editor and did interviews with reporters on the issue to ensure the women-owned business perspective was breaking through.
  • WIPP’s advocacy team worked to maintain funding for programs important to WIPP, such as the Women’s Business Centers, microloan lending programs and more.
  • WIPP submitted testimony to Congress and statements to the media urging stability of the small business health insurance marketplaces and that Congress keep in place a pooling mechanism for small businesses to buy health insurance.
  • WIPP encouraged the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to support the implementation of Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Act requiring financial institutions to gather and report data on small business lending, including applications made by women and minority owners. Read our press statement and our comments to the CFPB.
  • WIPP supported the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act.
  • WIPP was mentioned in more than 60 news articles in 2017, ensuring the women business owner perspective was heard throughout national debates around tax reform, the federal budget, entrepreneurship and more. We had articles in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, Financial Times, The Hill newspaper, The Atlantic, the Business Journals, Reuters, the Associated Press, Morning Consult, Bloomberg, the Chicago Tribune, NBC and many more.

Supporting Small Businesses on Small Business Saturday

  • 2017 saw record support from business organizations through the Small Business Saturday Coalition, the national grassroots initiative that WIPP leads to promote Small Business Saturday, with more than 575 organizations nationwide supporting small businesses on Small Business Saturday—an 18% increase over previous years.
  • Organizations WIPP engaged to support Small Business Saturday included the National Retail Federation, Association of Women’s Business Centers, U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., and SCORE, as did local organizations such as the Chicago Public Library, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Iowa and many, many others.
  • WIPP’s leadership around the Small Business Saturday Coalition was instrumental in promoting 7,200 events and activities celebrating Small Business Saturday nationwide, engaging more than 2.2 million small businesses.
  • The Coalition secured 653 mayoral proclamations in support of Small Business Saturday nationwide and ensure numerous public service announcements were issued promoting the day.
  • WIPP secured passage of a Senate Resolution designating Small Business Saturday and introduction of House Resolution and engaged 240 Members of Congress in Small Business Saturday activities.

WIPP Rings in Small Business Saturday at NASDAQ in Times Square

WIPP joined the New York City Department of Small Business Services to ring the closing bell at NASDAQ in Times Square in honor of Small Business Saturday, and received a proclamation from Mayor Bill de Blasio on behalf of the Small Business Saturday
NASDAQ2017

Holly McWhorter of PLANT Apothecary and Isabel Gunther of Little Green Gourmets joined WIPP in ringing the NASDAQ closing bell in honor of Small Business Saturday.

Coalition declaring Nov. 25 Small Business Saturday in New York City.
WIPP members joined Gregg Bishop, commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services, to close trading heading into the holiday shopping weekend.
“It was an honor to celebrate Small Business Saturday with Commissioner Bishop and the NYC Department of Small Business Services,” said attendee Jenn Hauser, owner of Bohaus, a small coffee and  flower shop in Brooklyn. “Most women business owners are small businesses, and Small Business Saturday is crucial to our bottom lines. Women business owners are one of the fastest growing segments of our economy and small businesses create two-thirds of our nation’s
new jobs. We hope folks remember to shop small this weekend, because when small business is strong, our economy is strong.”
Small business owners Jenn Hauser of Bohaus in Brooklyn, NY; Isabel Gunther of Little Green Gourmets in New York City; Holly McWhorter of PLANT Apothecary in Brooklyn, NY; and Dionna Dorsey of District of Clothing in Washington, D.C.
WIPP, along with American Express and partners, founded the Small Business Saturday Coalition to help engage communities across the country for Small Business Saturday. Every year, WIPP works with hundreds of organizations and thousands of small businesses across the country to promote Small Business Saturday in their communities.

WIPP In the News: December 2017

WIPP officials, members and activities drew media attention on issues ranging from tax reform to Small Business Saturday. Check out the 10 media hits featuring WIPP over the last month.

The Hill: Tax Bill Isn’t Perfect But a step in the Right Direction

Forbes: Female Business Owner Feeling Set-Aside? Consider This Option

Epoch Times: Republicans Forge Ahead with Tax Reform

Fosters Daily Democrat: Small Business Saturday posts impressive numbers

Niagara Frontier: Reports: Estimated 43% of American adults shopped or dined small on Small Business Saturday

Survey: Small Business Saturday Inspires Consumers to Shop Local

The Journal News: Port Chester to make Nov. 25 Small Business Day

Market Business Insider: Nine-in-Ten U.S. Consumers Say Small Business Saturday Has Had a Positive Impact on Their Community

The Eagle: Tax reform would boost women-owned businesses

Vision Times Media: Helping women entrepreneurs get federal contracts

News You Need to Know: December 2017

Emily Murphy

Longtime WIPP friend Emily Murphy, right, was sworn in as GSA administrator this week. She’s pictured here with WIPP Chief Advocate Ann Sullivan at the ceremony.

Longtime WIPP Friend Emily Murphy Sworn in as GSA Administrator

Longtime WIPP friend Emily Murphy, was sworn in as the 41st administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA) this week. Murphy’s Senate confirmation was strongly bipartisan, with leaders on both sides of the aisle praising her experience, qualifications and commitment to public service. The Senate’s unanimous consent decision came after Murphy’s confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, where she discussed her key priorities and vision for advancing the agency. Murphy will lead a workforce of 11,600 full-time employees and oversee approximately $54 billion in annual contracts.

“I look forward to working with our partners in industry, customer agencies, and Congress so that GSA can continue to fulfill its mission of providing the best value in real estate, acquisition, and technology services to government and the American people,” Murphy said last month.

Deadline to Apply for 2018 Health Coverage Friday

The final deadline to apply for 2018 health coverage at HealthCare.gov is this Friday, Dec. 15. Visit www.HealthCare.gov now to apply. You can also find a host of nonpartisan information about health coverage costs, requirements and options on the Kaiser Family Foundation website.

Burdensome Regulations

The SBA Office of Advocacy is asking for input on burdensome regulations as part of the office’s Regulatory Reform Efforts. You may fill out the form at www.sba.gov/advocacy. You don’t have to an expert to comment. The office is seeking to engage small business owners on their everyday pain points with respect to federal com

Appropriations & Continuing Resolutions

Faced with a December 8 deadline, Congress passed a short-term continuing appropriations resolution (CR), funding the federal government through December 22. Designed to give Congressional appropriators time to negotiate funding for the balance of FY18, Congressional GOP leadership must now decide whether to negotiate an FY18 omnibus with Democrats to ensure the eight votes needed to pass the bill in the Senate. House Republicans have proposed a hybrid means of funding—a bill that would fund defense for the remainder of FY18 with the remainder of the federal government operating on a CR—which Democrats strongly oppose. The other option is to punt funding for the government into January with another short-term CR.

A major issue surrounding the decision is the level of spending caps imposed by the Budget Control Act. Congressional GOP leadership wants to lift the caps and pass a $230 billion increase in defense spending over two years. Democrats also want to lift the caps, but are insisting that any increase in defense spending be matched by increased non-defense funding.

Additionally, there are two measures under consideration for inclusion in the CR legislation, including the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and the Alexander-Murray healthcare bill which restores cost sharing subsidies for participating insurance plans. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) made her support for the tax reform bill contingent on passage of the healthcare fix.