Federal 8(a) Business Program Back in Business

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has reignited its commitment to the 8(a) Business Development Program, a vital initiative established to assist socially and economically disadvantaged small business owners. This move comes after a recent U.S. District Court decision that impacted the process of establishing eligibility for the program.

Business leaders nationwide have expressed their full support for the 8(a) Program, which has been serving as the federal government’s mainstay for boosting minority-owned businesses through training, development, and contract facilitation for over 50 years.

Recent Court Ruling and SBA’s Action

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Due to a recent ruling in the case, Ultima Servs. Corp. v. Dept. of Ag., the SBA released interim guidelines and re-launched the 8(a) application portal on September 29.

SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman emphasized, “Though the administration of the 8(a) Program has been impacted by a recent court injunction and order, the program is open for business. In the weeks since the injunction, the SBA has reviewed or recertified thousands of current 8(a) participants through a process consistent with the court’s order. Now the SBA has reopened the 8(a) application portal to new participants, ensuring a vast, talented pool of vendors are available to federal agencies.”

Business Leaders Stand with the 8(a) Program

Chris James, CEO of The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, attested to the program’s pivotal role in nurturing minority-owned businesses. Similarly, Justin Nelson, President of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), emphasized the program’s significance in offering opportunities for diverse communities, particularly for those who have faced discrimination.

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Cariann Loo, President of the Native Hawaiian Organizations Association, highlighted the program’s transformative impact on Native Hawaiian businesses since its initiation in 2004. Many other community leaders have echoed this sentiment, underscoring the 8(a) program’s monumental role in fostering equity in the business sector.

Biden’s Vision and the 8(a) Program’s Role

Under President Biden’s leadership, a goal was set in 2021 to award 15% of federal prime contracting to small, disadvantaged businesses by 2025. This target marks a 50% rise in such initiatives since he assumed office. The 8(a) Program has been instrumental in propelling this mission forward. Last fiscal year alone, the program played a role in supporting the creation of over 727,800 jobs nationwide.

For small business owners, the reopening of the 8(a) program signals renewed opportunities and an enhanced platform to grow, especially for those in marginalized communities.

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