Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Set Aside Programs

The Small Business Administration (SBA) wants all small businesses to succeed in the government contracting arena. A set-aside program is proof that the SBA takes actions in trying to help out businesses of all varieties. We already spoke of one type of program, the HUB Zone, but there are plenty more than just that.

A set-aside program is a category reserved exclusively for businesses who meet the minimum requirements. These programs generally reserve contacting dollars for small, woman-owned or minority owned businesses. These set-aside programs allow businesses that would traditionally be at an advantage to obtain favor when bidding on a contract or becoming a sub-contractor to a larger company.

While many of you may consider yourselves to be small business owners, that may not be the case with the SBA. To participate in its set-aside program, your business must follow a strict set of rules, which can vary slightly depending on the industry. As a general rule, it must be independently owned and operated, must not be the dominant company in the field of operation in which you’re bidding, and cannot have more than 500 employees. However, there are size standards that business owners need to be aware of once they receive the small business qualification. For instance, once the SBA has awarded your company the title ‘small business,’ it can be taken away if one of two things happens:

1. your business grows and exceeds the maximum employee number (over 500), or
2. the amount of annual income for each industry code exceeds its set limit.

It may seem odd that there are limitations to these programs, but they are set in place for a good reason. In order to combat fraud, the size and monetary limits help the SBA prevent larger companies (that have grown from being small) from obtaining contracts intended for legitimate small businesses, who need the assistance more. What many business owners need to realize is that these programs are not a guaranteed lifetime all-access pass to contracts – they are intended to give a temporary advantage in the arena until the company is strong enough to compete in the big leagues.

In the upcoming weeks, we will be focusing on the different types of certifications that these set-aside programs create and the lengthy process involved in obtaining them. Gateway to Government knows how painful it can be sometimes to become qualified, which is why we allow our clients to use our certifications by acting as contractors. We’re a small, woman, minority-owned business – that’s three classifications right there. Many individuals are lucky to just be one, but we’re three, giving us preference over many other businesses in the contracting arena. Gateway to Government wants to make your contracting experience a breeze, which is why with our packages you can use all our certifications to help give your business the leg-up it truly deserves.

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