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.

WIPP Works in Washington: A Heavy Buying Season Ahead – Five Tips for Being Successful in the Federal Marketplace

For all women business owners who have secured, or are seeking federal contracts, the first order of business is remembering the incredible effort it took to get the Women-Owned Small Business Procurement Program in place. WIPP and thousands of women across the country pushed for this program and as a result, today women are awarded

Anne Sullivan

Anne Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate

nearly $18 billion in contracts through the program. As part of that 13-year effort, I have had the privilege to gain insights on successful strategies.

Last month, the Department of Treasury held a women’s history month event organized by Lisa Jenkins, who heads the small business office and is an incredible advocate for women-owned businesses. I thought I would share my five tips for being successful in the federal marketplace I presented at the event. PS: If you do not know Lisa Jenkins, make it your business to do so.

Since the federal government just received its FY18 money, expect spending to be fast and furious until the end of the fiscal year—September 30. Think about the strategies you have in place to respond to a myriad of requests for information and Sources Sought notices. Remember to ask agencies to consider setting aside the contract for women-owned companies and familiarize yourself with the WOSB sole source rules.

FIVE TIPS

  1. Know more than the person you are meeting with.

Dig deep—read the Small Business part of the FAR (https://www.acquisition.gov/far/html/FARTOCP19.html) and all the government contracting articles/news. you can get your hands on. Look up WIPP’s Give Me Five http://www.giveme5.com program and take classes that are applicable to building your knowledge base. Look up the agency’s FY18 funding and understand their focus (Give Me Five: Follow the Money Webinar).

  1. Seek to establish relationships in unconventional ways—go to events where the person you are trying to meet is speaking and get creative about getting an introduction to them through your networks. Follow them on social media. Only ask for meetings when you have all your ducks in a row and you have a specific ask.
  2. Join organizations that work with agencies and become a leader. It is not enough to join an organization at the lowest level. The real benefit comes from being a leader. Organizations feature their leaders, give them opportunities to introduce speakers and assist their leaders in connections that are helpful in the federal contracting arena.
  3. Learn how to use the SBA set-aside programs, such as the WOSB procurement program and be prepared to educate agency contracting officers on the benefits of using the program. Don’t be offended that contracting officers don’t know your program—you can be the educator. That’s a good place to be.

Understand the budget process—it’s all public information. Know how your programs are funded. Look up the agency’s funding and understand their focus (Check out Give Me Five: Follow the Money Webinar). Although this can be complicated, understanding this process and using it to your advantage will give you a huge leg up on the competition.

WIPP and WBENC Join Forces to Further Support Women Entrepreneurs, New WIPP President Announced!

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Today, Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) are announcing a new partnership that will enable both organizations to strengthen their education and advocacy efforts to support women business owners across the country and at the public policy table.

Candace Waterman

Candace Waterman

WIPP and WBENC have forged a National Partner Organization agreement that will make WIPP’s public policy advocacy and federal procurement education programs a key part of the benefits that WBENC’s 14 Regional Partner Organizations offer to their members. In return, WBENC will add the voices of its 14,000 certified women-owned businesses to WIPP’s national advocacy work in Washington.

“WIPP’s legislative and regulatory successes directly impact the success of women business owners. Our presence in Washington is enhanced by WBENC’s powerful network of women businesses beyond the Beltway. WIPP’s education and advocacy tools will strengthen the fastest growing business sector of our nation’s economy,” said WIPP Board Chair Lisa Firestone.

WBENC is the largest third-party certifier of businesses owned, controlled, and operated by women in the United States. WBENC provides business development opportunities for member corporations, government agencies and more than 14,000 certified women-owned businesses at events and other forums.

“I am so excited about this new partnership opportunity and strengthening our relationship with WIPP,” says Pamela Prince-Eason, president and CEO of WBENC. “I have no doubt this will have a positive impact on our network of women-owned businesses and those who support them.”

In addition, Candace Waterman, WBENC’s vice president of certification and program operations, will join WIPP as its President on May 1, 2018. Waterman’s tenure at WBENC ensured a world-class certification standard now relied upon by thousands of corporations and government agencies, and that leadership experience in the development of women-owned businesses will provide immediate value to WIPP.

“Through its tireless advocacy efforts and valuable educational offerings, WIPP has been a true leader in the effort to give women entrepreneurs a seat at the table. I’m thrilled to be joining an organization that has accomplished somuch,” Waterman said. “I look forward to building on those accomplishments and working to ensure women’s entrepreneurship continues on an upward trajectory of growth and success.”

“Candace has proven herself a fierce advocate for women business owners over the years,” Firestone said. “The breadth of expertise and experience she will bring to WIPP is invaluable and we’re honored to have her join our team.”

This Women’s History Month, Show the Power of Women Business Owners

Happy International Women’s Day—let’s celebrate by showing our might online! March is Women’s History Month, and throughout the month WIPP will be coordinating a Twitter campaign that highlights those who make the women’s business community an economic powerhouse. Join us in demonstrating how important women business owners are by tweeting about women business owners you find inspiring, either from history or the modern day, and tagging @WIPPWeDecide. We’ll amplify your post with our audience. Keep an eye on Twitter as WIPP members discuss the women they find inspiring. There are sure to be some great stories!

Speaking of inspiring women, we want to give you the opportunity to get to know WIPP’s board better. We’re starting with Board Chair Lisa Firestone. Here is a short Q&A with Lisa.

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Lisa Firestone, WIPP Board Chair

Q. How long have you been a member of WIPP?

A. I have been a member of WIPP since 2009.

Q. Why did you join WIPP?

A. In 2005, my company Managed Care Advisors, won its first government contract and it quickly became very clear that contracting with the federal government was incredibly complex—from understanding its culture to navigating its regulations and best practices. After receiving certification through WBENC, I was told WIPP was “the organization to belong to if you were interested in government contracting.” I went to my first WIPP annual meeting and was immediately impressed with the speakers, the caliber of women who attended, and resources that are available. I knew that if I had time to get involved with one organization, WIPP was it!

Q. What about WIPP is most beneficial for your business?

A. When I first joined, I needed to get educated in federal contracting. WIPP provided me with educational resources, access to technical experts and introductions to other women business owners who were experienced contractors and willing to mentor, educate and guide me. In addition to becoming well-versed in government contracting, I had the opportunity to work with WIPP members with expertise in cyber security, contracting law and government relations. They all played significant roles in the continued growth and maturity of my company. Personally, WIPP has also given me the opportunity to do things that I would have never dreamed possible—testifying on Capitol Hill, meeting legislators, and mentoring other entrepreneurs.

WIPP has not only supported the growth of my company, it has supported my growth and confidence as a leader. This organization is special—its culture is supportive, positive and uplifting and one of advocating on behalf of ALL women entrepreneurs. At WIPP, you are among people who you truly enjoy and trust and you are in an environment where you will celebrate each other’s success.

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.

Government Shutdown Comes to an End

capitol building.pngAfter a three-day shut down, Senate leaders reached an agreement to fund the government through February 8. The Senate voted 81-18 to pass the measure, shortly followed by the House, which passed it 266-150. The deal was based on a commitment by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to find a solution for Dreamers to remain in the U.S. until February 8. The agreement includes:

  • Authorizes the Small Business Administration to shift funding to administer increased 7(a) loan demand
  • Delays the re-implementation of the Obamacare medical device tax through 2019
  • Delays the re-implementation of the tax on “Cadillac” health plans through 2022
  • Suspends the Obamacare tax on insurance providers for 2019
  • A provision to provide back pay to workers who were briefly furloughed
  • A six-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

The continuing resolution (CR) includes other provisions which can be found here.

This is the fourth CR for FY18. As a reminder, a CR funds the government at current levels, in this case, FY17 levels. Having trouble keeping track of the CRs for FY18? See below.

CRs for FY18

  • September 30, 2017: First Deadline for FY18 – CR extended funding through December 8, 2017 (passed by Congress on September 8)
  • December 8, 2017: Second Deadline for FY18 – CR extended funding through December 22, 2017 (passed by Congress on December 7)
  • December 22, 2017: Third Deadline for FY18 – CR extended funding through January 19, 2018 (passed by Congress on December 21)
  • January 19, 2018: Fourth Deadline for FY18 – CR extended through February 8, 2018 (passed by Congress on January 22)
    • Note: The House passed a CR on January 18 to fund the government through February 16. After House passage, the Senate amended the CR by changing the expiration date from February 16 to February 8 and including the back-pay provision. The Senate then passed the amended bill yesterday afternoon, with the House following suit on January 22.  President Trump signed the bill into law that night.
Members Answer WIPP’s Call to Action!
On January 19, as the Senate was trying to find a way to keep the government open, we issued and Action Alert asking WIPP members to contact their senators about the shutdown. We’re proud to report that the Action Alert resulted in nearly 50 letters sent to Senators urging them to keep the government operating and telling them that shutdowns are bad for women business owners.
Thank you for making your voice heard and watch for future opportunities to engage!

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.

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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: Alba Gonzalez-Nylander is the Picture of Success

As an in-demand video producer, Nashville-based Alba Gonzalez-Nylander is experienced at making others feel comfortable in front of the camera.

Although resistant to taking her own advice, Alba overcame her shyness on August 2 to join other women business owners to speak on a ChallengeHER panel in Nashville. Organized by Women Impacting Public Policy, the Small Business Administration and American Express OPEN, ChallengHER workshops throughout the U.S. are designed to connect women-owned businesses with the resources they need to successfully pursue federal contracts. The government, historically, has fallen short of targets set for contracting with women entrepreneurs—an issue ChallengHER seeks to address.

“It’s so funny—I’m very comfortable behind the camera telling folks what to do, but don’t put me in front of the camera,” said Alba, noting that her first experience speaking at a ChallengeHER event was nonetheless a great opportunity to share how she strategically grew her business through government contracting. “ChallengeHER is amazing. I wish I had been able to attend an event like this because there is so much to learn about becoming successful in government contracting. With the right tools, it can be a wonderful avenue for women to succeed in business.”

Born in Venezuela, Alba came to the U.S. in 1984 and attended UCLA before finishing her Bachelor’s of Arts degree from Southern California’s Columbia College in television engineering and production. While at school, she worked for Univision, which sponsored her to stay in the U.S., where she eventually became a citizen.

She worked in broadcast television in Los Angeles for many years, including stints at Fox Sports, E!, Disney and Sony before moving to Nashville to work for TNN. In 2010, wanting to start her own business, she met Jennifer Fritz, an experienced wedding videographer, and after two years of researching niche markets, the duo realized the potential in government contracting.

An early government gig for AJ Media Services was with the Ft. Lauderdale Fire Department in Florida, a job that afforded them the opportunity to defy perceived limitations based on their gender by shooting a series of physically challenging fire-training videos.

“Being a woman business owner, especially in the kind of business we are in, mainly male-oriented, the expectation is that, as a woman, I cannot be going around with a camera and taking the shot,” she said. “But then they realized we work really hard and can do things like anybody else. I was on a balcony with firemen around me and very close to the fire.”

Repeat business with fire departments and universities became an important path toward building a portfolio of government work. But Alba said building a strong business in contracting involves constant researching of requests for proposals and staying nimble enough to respond to fluctuations in the market.

“It all depends on when governments decide to do video production,” Alba said. “At the end of the year, sometimes governments and universities realize they haven’t used certain pots of money so they decide to do a video. It isn’t every single year. Maybe they will wait five years before doing another video.”

To other women looking to enter federal contracting, Alba recommended getting certified with the Small Business Administration and their home state as a woman-owned enterprise. The next step is registering with the federal contract management system, establishing an interesting and up-to-date profile, and searching procurement forecasts.

“You can get ahead of the crowd and really be prepared when those things come in,” she said. “And attend government contracting events. That is huge. People need to get to know you and see your capabilities.”

Now the sole proprietor of AJ Media Services, Alba is seeking approval for the General Services Administration’s 8(a) Schedule so she can be even more competitive in the contracting marketplace. She’s ready to take her can-do work ethic and diversify her client base using what she called “the magic touch.”

“I have to work 12 to 15 hours a day sometimes to go the extra mile,” Alba said. “I know what the clients want—giving the human touch to everything. I don’t know if it’s the feminine side, but I always find a way to make people cry, in a good way.”