SBA gives stamp of approval to online certification aid

The Small Business Administration unveiled a new online tool to close gaps and cut red tape for small businesses hoping to work with the federal government.

Certify.sba.gov streamlines and clarifies the application process, and in its first iteration, focuses on women-owned small businesses.

“This new website first focuses on closing market gaps for women entrepreneurs in the federal marketplace by featuring the Women-Owned Small Business Program as we work toward breaking federal contracting goals for a second year in fiscal year 2016,” SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet said in a statement.

Kari Warberg Block, a council member for the National Women’s Business Council, said that the new site creates “an accessible and easy-to-complete form [that] will benefit any woman-owned business interested in certification.”

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“The federal marketplace is a tremendous opportunity for women, and we will continue to champion women business owners’ participation in the Women Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program,” Warberg Block said in a statement to Federal News Radio.

The website allows applicants to fill out a variety of forms online and provides an “Am I Eligible” questionnaire to help businesses determine if they qualify for SBA’s programs: 8(A), WOSB and Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBzone).

The Certify site also has a checklist for businesses looking to apply for each of the programs.

“Small businesses often get too little credit for their work as our nation’s leading job-creators, generating nearly two out of three net new jobs in our economy,” Contreras-Sweet said. “Last fiscal year the federal government awarded its highest percentage of contracting dollars to small businesses in the history of the United States, totaling more than $90 billion. Those resources supported more than half a million jobs in communities across this country.  When these federal dollars churn in local communities, they create a multiplier effect that strengthens the local tax base and leads to better government services and better schools. That’s the promise of our work.”

SBA also uses its LINC program and Start Up in a Day Initiative to get small businesses working with government faster.

Chat with Alastair Thomson, CIO of NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Aug. 16 at 11 a.m. Sign up here.

The SBA LINC program provides an online application process that routes information to a financial institution that best matches the applicant’s credit profile.

The Startup in a Day initiative challenges mayors in cities across the country to help businesses startup in 24 hours. Contreras-Sweet told Federal News Radio in May that SBA was not quite at a one-day standup, but was “shaving days off dramatically.”

Setting the bar

Fiscal 2015 was a record-setting year for SBA. According to its annual report card, the government is reaching its 5 percent women-owned small business contracting goal for the first time since the bar was set in 1996.

The government spent $17.8 billion working with WOSBs, according to the report. The government also reached — and in fact surpassed — its 23 percent overall small business procurement goal by spending 25.75 percent.

As a whole, the government received an A on its report card for fiscal 2015.

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