Looking to Uncle Sam: Increased Government Spending Means Lucrative Contracts for Small Businesses. (Management Advice)
McKanic, Arlene, Black Enterprise
In the wake of last year's terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush increased funding for homeland security--to the tune of $37.7 billion for 2003. This is nearly double the $19.5 billion budget for 2002. As a result, there are more government contracts available to small businesses provided they're properly prepared to navigate the red tape.
"There's a certain level of bureaucracy in the process, and you can't look at the process as being an impediment," advises Robert L. Wright, who formed Dimensions International Inc., an information technology and engineering firm located in Alexandria, Virginia. "You must figure out ways to meet the requirements."
Wright is an example of a black entrepreneur who managed to land government work in spite of the challenges. When he launched the firm in 1985, he began by cold-calling government agencies. After due diligence and lots of paperwork, his firm landed its first contract worth $4,800 to design architectural drawings for offices of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. His efforts paid off. Revenues for 2001 were approximately $53 million.
For small minority-owned businesses, access to these contracts has always been particularly challenging. Proposed legislation, such as the Small Business Contract Equity Act by Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.), requires that an agency provide a copy of a bid solicitation to the Small Business Administration when the contract results in the displacement of a small business. Then the SBA makes a determination as to whether it is a bundled contract (contracts too large for small businesses to handle, therefore, blocking them from participation). The bill is currently stalled in the House Committee on Small Business, of which Velazquez is the ranking democrat.
In the meantime, minority-owned small businesses can take the following steps to help improve their chances of landing government contracts:
* Apply for an 8(a) designation. …