The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced the revitalization of its 7(j) Training Program. Now rebranded as Empower to Grow (E2G), this initiative aims to enhance the readiness of small disadvantaged businesses (SDBs) for federal contracting, a key growth area under the Biden-Harris Administration.
Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman, representing the SBA and the voice of over 33 million small businesses in President Biden’s Cabinet, revealed this strategic shift in a bid to advance equity in federal procurement. The E2G program is set to receive substantial upgrades in its core services, including enhanced coaching, training, and technology tools. This move aligns with the Administration’s commitment to ensuring fair competition for the more than $700 billion earmarked for small business-eligible federal contracts.
“Small business growth creates jobs while strengthening communities and our economy – which is why the Biden-Harris Administration continues to prioritize equity and a level playing field so all small business owners, including those from disadvantaged communities, can successfully compete for over $700 billion in small business-eligible federal contracts,” stated Administrator Guzman.
The introduction of E2G coincides with the SBA releasing new data highlighting increases in contracting dollars for SDBs. This data reveals record-breaking federal contracting dollars awarded to businesses across various demographic categories under the Biden-Harris Administration. Yet, it also underscores the need for continued efforts to address persistent disparities in federal contracting equity.
Key Upgrades of the Empower to Grow Program:
- Customized one-on-one training to develop skills essential for winning government contracts.
- An enhanced Federal Market Acceleration Program (FedMAP), offering a three-month training course led by experts in government business development.
- A federal contractor master class providing innovative tools and techniques to aid small businesses in competing for contracts.
- Networking and matchmaking events with government agencies and prime contractors.
- Bidding technology tailored for 8(a) firms, enabling them to access over $2 trillion in State and Local bid opportunities.
- Multilingual counselors to ensure program accessibility across all states and territories.
In Fiscal Year 2023, the 7(j) program saw impressive results: 3,700 federal contract bids were submitted by participating small businesses, with a 60% success rate. More than 6,000 small businesses engaged in the program, reporting an average 45% increase in annual revenue post-training.
Federal Contracting Data by Demographics:
Small Business Deals
- Black Americans received $9.5 billion, a $490 million increase.
- Hispanic Americans were awarded $10.6 billion, up by $330 million.
- Asian Americans saw $7.5 billion, a $540 million rise.
- Subcontinent Asian Americans received $10.2 billion, increasing by $750 million.
- Native Americans were awarded $19 billion, a significant jump of $1.62 billion.
These figures illustrate a broad-based increase in federal contracting dollars across diverse business groups. The SBA’s ongoing efforts aim to not only continue this growth but also to reflect the changing face of American entrepreneurship in the federal supply chain.
In 2021, President Biden set an ambitious goal of allocating 15% of federal prime contracting to SDBs by fiscal year 2025. This target represents a 50% increase from the levels at the beginning of his presidency. The 8(a) program has been instrumental in achieving this objective, with federal agencies reaching record levels of spending on contracts with SDBs. This spending has had a significant impact on job creation, with the federal government’s small business prime contracting program supporting 727,800 jobs nationwide in fiscal year 2022 alone.
The SBA’s Empower to Grow initiative marks a pivotal step towards equitable federal contracting and reflects the Administration’s commitment to supporting the diverse landscape of American small businesses. This program not only aims to close the gap in federal contracting disparities but also serves as a catalyst for innovation, competition, and economic growth.
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