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National Small Business Week Procurement Awards Keynote: "Small Businesses Creating Jobs and Winning the Future through Federal Contracting"

Speech Date: 
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Speech Location: 
Washington, DC
As Prepared For: 
Karen Mills, SBA Administrator

Thank you, Joe. Thank you to our sponsor, Raytheon. Congratulations, again, to all of our winners. It’s great to have the opportunity to speak with you here at the Procurement Awards breakfast.

At SBA, we often talk about our “3 Cs:” contracting, capital, and counseling.

What makes contracting unique – and why I’m so pleased to be here – is that it’s a team effort across all federal agencies. Each agency has a specific commitment and – more importantly – a tremendous opportunity to work with small firms like yours.

This is the single biggest way the federal government directly supports small business – with nearly $100 billion in contracts going to you in recent years…

This is a win-win. Firms like yours get the oxygen to scale up and create good jobs here at home. At the same time, the federal government taps into the most nimble, dynamic and innovative firms in America – often with a direct line to the CEO.

Overall, the goal is to put at least 23% of contracts in your hands… We’re heading in the right direction: 21.5% in Fiscal 2008… 21.9% in Fiscal 2009… our Fiscal 2010 numbers are looking good, too.

When every percent point translates to $4 billion dollars, we know just how critical this is. So, let’s give Joe’s team as well as our federal partners who are here today a round of applause for that.

It brings me to a larger point I’d like to make this morning.

With all of our efforts, the SBA is a strong voice for small business, but in addition to SBA – there are many other voices throughout the Administration who share our deep commitment to your success.

The President himself is the best example. I’ve been out on the road with him many times over the past two years. One of my favorite things that he says about small business is that “when you succeed, America succeeds.”

It’s true. You create two of every three new jobs in this country. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business.

So – at this critical time in recovery – our #1 objective is to put wind at your backs so you can continue to out-build, out-compete, and out-innovate the rest of the world.

That’s why our theme this year at Small Business Week is “empowering entrepreneurs.”

And that’s why we kicked the week off with a report on how we’ve empowered entrepreneurs over the past two years. It’s called the “Small Business Agenda: Growing America’s Small Businesses to Win the Future.”

It highlights 7 areas where we’ve worked across the Administration:

  1. Contracting is one area and I’ll come back to that.
  2. Tax breaks: 17 tax breaks for small businesses through the Recovery Act, the Small Business Jobs Act, and other laws (accelerated depreciation, 100% expensing…)
  3. Access to capital: $53 billion in SBA lending support for 113,000 small businesses at a time when traditional lending was frozen (incl. $42B at cost of $1.2B under ARRA/SBJA)
  4. Exporting: From export financing, to counseling, to trade missions…we’re helping small exporters contribute to the National Export Initiative goal of doubling U.S. exports
  5. Counseling: Free and low-cost counseling to more than 2 million entrepreneurs and small business owners through SCORE, our SBDCs and our Women’s Business Centers
  6. Support for high-growth small businesses: Targeted mentoring and growth capital for the biggest job creators through new efforts like Startup America
  7. And, more stability and protection in financial markets while reducing regulatory barriers and costs

Let me expand a little on the contracting piece, in particular. It was one of the most extensive sections of the report.

  • Under the Recovery Act, we delivered nearly one-third of contracts to small businesses, far above our 23% goal. And, we exceeded all the goals for disadvantaged, service-disabled veteran-owned, women-owned and HUBZone businesses with those contracts.
  • We reworked the rules for 8(a) and HUBZone to ensure that benefits are flowing more directly to people like you.
  • Under the Jobs Act, we’re bringing the successful businesses development tools in our mentor-protégé program to apply to more groups: including women, service-disabled veterans, and HUBZone.
  • We’ve partnered closely with the Departments of Transportation, Interior, and – of course – Defense, which buys $60 billion in goods and services from folks like you.
  • We’re making government work better for you. Defense is reducing the time it takes to pay small contractors from 30 to 20 days. Some people might say 10 days isn’t a big deal, but for your business, it can be the difference in making payroll.
  • The report also talks about how President Obama’s taskforce is pushing to ensure consistent training across the agencies on how to do small business set-asides.
  • And finally, where are our women-owned firms? The woman-owned-small business contracting rule is now in effect, helping women compete in 300 industries where they’ve been underrepresented.

We’ve come a long way, but we’re going to do more.

As you saw, Raytheon was our sponsor today. I know that many of your businesses are a critical part of the supply chains of America’s premiere companies.

That’s why we’ve been working with Jeff Immelt from GE to ensure that the supplier community is a key focus of the President’s Jobs and Competitiveness Council. Just last week, we were together in Dayton, Ohio, at the company that makes the labels for Tide and Mr. Clean.

We got good input from businesses like yours about how we can strengthen America’s supply chain, as our Eisenhower award winners today have done.

And we’ll continue to need the ideas and the leadership of people like you in this community to help us move forward.

So let me close by simply saying thank you for all that you have done and all that you will continue to do. You’re giving America a double-boost: You’re meeting federal needs in new and innovative ways… and you’re creating good jobs for people in our communities.

Let’s continue to build on that as America’s small federal contractors and subcontractors play a strong role in winning the future. Thank you.  ###