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Helping More Women-Owned Small Businesses Compete for Federal Contracts

SBA Administrator Karen Mills discusses the new Women’s Contracting Rule.

Today, at the White House Women’s Entrepreneurship Conference, I announced the official roll-out of an important new tool for women-owned small businesses.  It’s called the Women’s Contracting Rule and it will help put more federal contracts in their hands.

These contracts will help women take their business to the next level and create the jobs we need.
Here’s the situation.  Even though women lead some of the strongest and most innovative small firms, and women-owned firms are among the fastest growing sectors of our economy, they continue to be underrepresented in the federal contracting marketplace.

That’s why – back in 2000 – Congress passed a law authorizing the SBA to set up a program to help ensure that at least 5 percent of contracts from federal agencies go to small women-owned firms.  When President Obama took office, a Women’s Contracting Rule still hadn’t been implemented, so we made it a top priority and got to work. We analyzed the contracting marketplace for women-owned firms, and we gathered input from more than 1,000 women’s business groups and women business leaders.  With their help, we moved forward.

The final rule we announced today is focused on 83 industries in which we know there are too few contracting dollars and/or too few contracts going to small women-owned firms. After the rule is published in the Federal Register today, we’ll be working closely with the federal agencies to give them the systems and the training they need to set-aside more contracts for small, women-owned firms.  We expect for the program to be operational in about 4 months.  That means by early 2011, a new women’s small business contracting program will be up and running.

More importantly, this means that millions of small firms owned by women across the U.S. will have more opportunities to compete for and win federal contracts, grow their businesses, and create more good American jobs.  That's good news for women-owned firms, and that's good news for our economy.