Small Things Come In Big Packages

AnnSullivan new

May 2016 WIPP Works In Washington

Small Things Come In Big Packages

By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Government Relations Team

 

In an epic week fueled by bipartisanship, the Senate Small Business Committee and the House Armed Services Committee put small business issues front and center in a way that was nothing short of amazing. This just goes to show that the “do-nothing Congress” does in fact do plenty when it comes to small business.

Let’s first talk about the Senate Small Business Committee. Members of the Committee introduced and are expected to pass three bills important to WIPP. One bill would extend the Small Business and Innovative Research program (SBIR) and a related program the Small Business Technology Transfer program (STTR) and included a mandate to do better outreach to women and minorities (thanks to Michigan’s Senator Gary Peters). The government funds innovative products and services through federal grants to bring the products to commercialization. Don’t know about it—look into it at: SBIR.gov. By the way, this is part of WIPP’s access to capital platform – so another accomplishment for our advocacy.

Are you a contractor? Then you might be interested in the introduction of The Small Business Transforming America’s Regions Act of 2016. If you aren’t aware of the HUBZone program, you should look into it. The government gives a bid preference to companies who invest in low-income areas. It could supplement the WOSB program you already belong to. At least check it out at SBA’s HUBZone Page.

Need capital? The Committee is expected to modernize the Microloan Program administered by the SBA. The program lends $50,000 and below to companies who need capital. In case you didn’t know it, there is a whole nationwide network of lenders who stand ready to lend, backed by the government’s guarantee against failure.

Now onto the House Armed Services Committee. This Committee and its counterpart, the Senate Armed Services Committee, prepare a bill each year, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that funds all military operations. It is a must-pass bill because the military requires certainty in funding. In order for the US to keep its competitiveness, it must have a strong and diverse industrial base. That’s where small businesses come in.

To that end, a whole section of the bill is devoted to small business contracting changes and strengthening resources for women entrepreneurs including women’s business centers. The bill:

 

  • Requires an annual report on the share of contract dollars awarded to small businesses without any exclusions
  • Establishes a pilot program that enables contractors to receive a past performance rating by submitting a request to the contracting officer and/or prime contractor
  • Requires the SBA to develop a list of no-cost programs that assist small businesses in compliance with Federal regulations.
  • Strengthens agency small business offices to recommend which small business set-aside programs should be used for each contract at their agency.
  • Requires commercial market representatives (CMRs) to assist prime contractors in identifying small business subcontractors and assess the prime’s compliance with their subcontracting plans
  • Adds HUBZone and SDVOSB to small business office oversight (previously not listed in statute but already happening in practice)

 

In case you do not remember, the Women’s Business Center reforms would raise the funding authorization level by 50% from $14.5M to $21.75M and increase grants to individual centers as well as streamline the program. Better program, better training for women.

How did all of this happen? Champions. The leadership of the House Small Business Committee, which passed the provisions now part of the NDAA, worked together hand-in-glove to assist our businesses. Chair Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Ranking Member Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) set the gold standard of getting things done without a partisan fuss. Similarly, the Senate Small Business Committee, under the guidance of Chair David Vitter (R-LA) and Ranking Member Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) worked together to introduce reforms good for small businesses.

The real story behind all of this activity is the power of small businesses uniting to ask for changes in contracting and better resources to succeed. Organizations, such as WIPP are the champions, walking the halls of Congress to press for better programs and fairness in contracting.

While I would agree that Congress is more partisan than ever before, there are bright spots. This past week was certainly one—all made possible by elected officials crossing party lines for the good of women-owned companies. If you ever wondered what your WIPP membership is paying for or if you need a reason to join WIPP, look no further. The advocacy WIPP provides on your behalf is the best return on investment you may ever find. It requires almost none of your time, requires a minimal monetary investment (dues) and you get a whole team dedicated to advancing your agenda to the Congress on a daily basis.

I call that value.

 

Entrepreneurs Win at House Small Business Committee Markup

By: Jake Clabaugh, WIPP Government Relations

32cc090e-78c0-46b6-8130-e810a45a4029WIPP’s access to capital platform, Breaking the Bank, continues to gain traction in Congress as two more priorities cleared the House Small Business Committee during this morning’s markup. The Commercializing on Small Business Innovation Act provides much needed improvements to the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. These programs provide funding for small businesses to innovate through research and development partnerships with federal agencies. WIPP’s platform advocates for a public-private partnership to accelerate the commercialization of technologies developed through the SBIR & STTR programs and the bill passed today does just that. The Commercialization Assistance Pilot Program will allow small businesses to receive additional funding to assist entrepreneurs with bringing their products to market after completing the program.

Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) are an invaluable resource for the 10 million women entrepreneurs in the country who annually contribute $1.4 trillion to the nation’s economy. Legislation to reauthorize this program, the Women’s Small Business Ownership Act of 2015, was cleared by the Senate Committee on Small Business last fall and now the House Committee has followed suit. The Developing the Next Generation of Small Businesses Act of 2016 provides much needed updates to the WBC program including expanding annual authorized funding to $21.75 million and increasing the grants available to centers that provide training and counseling to entrepreneurs.

We would like to thank Chair Steve Chabot (R-OH), Ranking Member Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), and Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) for prioritizing women entrepreneurs and passing both pieces legislation with bipartisan, unanimous votes.

 

 

 

More Than Cheer In Congressional Stocking

stocking

Women business owners enter the holiday season with a gift from Congress — more money for important women’s entrepreneurship programs.

Just when it seemed like Members of Congress would have to delay their Holiday break, the House and Senate passed two key bills to conclude the legislative year. After funding the government with stopgap measures for over two months, Congress agreed on a spending bill thru September 2016. Accompanying the yearlong spending bill is a bipartisan agreement to extend expiring tax rules for businesses and families. Both bills give women-owned businesses reason to celebrate during the Holiday season.

The $1.1 trillion funding bill sets spending levels for all government programs through September 30, 2016. Congress increased funding for many of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) lending and entrepreneurial development programs. The chart below highlights WIPP’s priorities and the programs import to women entrepreneurs:

  FY2016 WIPP’s Request FY2015
Women’s Business Centers $17 million $16 million $15 million
National Women’s Business Council $1.5 million $1 million $1 million
Microloan Program Lending $35 million $35 million $25 million
Microloan Program Technical Assistance $25 million $25 million $22.3 million
PRIME Program $5 million $5 million $5 million
Office of Advocacy $9.1 million $9.1 million $8.45 million

WIPP advocated throughout 2015 on behalf of women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs and WIPP’s efforts culminated in full and increased funding levels for vital programs. Congress gave a huge boost to the microloan program- a primary capital access vehicle for women-owned businesses – by expanding lending authority by 40% to $35 million. Women’s business Centers (WBCs) will receive an increase of $2 million, which will enable the WBC program to provide additional grants for entrepreneurial development training for women entrepreneurs. Not only did WIPP advocate for increased funding for the WBC program, WIPP supported The Women’s Small Business Ownership Act of 2015. This bill would increase the WBC program’s authorization to $21.75 million, increase awards to Centers from $150,000 to $250,000, and provide modernizations to the program’s granting and approval process.

Congress’ tax “extenders” bill, an annual extension of certain tax credits and deductions, provides certainty for businesses and valuable incentives for research and investment. The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act will expand and make permanent small business expensing rules and the Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit. Lawmakers permanently extended the small business expensing limitation of $500,000 that was in effect from 2010 to 2014.  Had this rule not been extended, businesses would only have been allowed to deduct a maximum of $200,000 for machinery and equipment investments.

The bill also makes permanent the R&D credit, making it easier for start-ups and small businesses to receive tax deductions for innovative projects. According to WIPP’s 2015 Survey of Women Business Owners, tax burdens were the prime concern of women-owned firms. Specifically, women business owners cited uncertainty in tax credits and deductions as an annual concern. This bill helps alleviate some of the uncertainty.

As we wrap up 2015, Congress’s end of the year legislation provides full funding and certainty for programs important to women entrepreneurs.  We are looking forward to a productive and successful 2016.