WASHINGTON – Business leaders across the country are joining the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) in voicing support for the agency’s 8(a) Business Development Program, the federal government’s premier business development program helping socially and economically disadvantaged small business owners expand their footprint in the federal marketplace through training and contract support. In light of a United States District Court ruling in Ultima Servs. Corp. v. Dept. of Ag. affecting how participants establish eligibility, the SBA issued interim guidance to participants and stakeholders and announced the reopening of the application portal on Sept. 29.
Statement from SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman:
“Though the administration of the 8(a) Program has been impacted by a recent court injunction and order, the program is open for business. In the weeks since the injunction, the SBA has reviewed or recertified thousands of current 8(a) participants through a process consistent with the court’s order. Now the SBA has reopened the 8(a) application portal to new participants – ensuring a vast, talented pool of vendors are available to federal agencies.
“The SBA’s 8(a) Program has more than a 50-year track record of making contracting with the U.S. government more accessible for thousands of small businesses who in turn provide critical products and services to advance agency missions. Leveling the playing field not only provides entrepreneurs from historically underserved communities the opportunity to grow their businesses, create jobs, and contribute to their local economies – it is also crucial to enhancing performance across our federal government.
As we await a final ruling, the SBA and Biden-Harris Administration remains committed to supporting the 8(a) Program and standing up for the small business owners who have helped drive America’s historic economic growth. We will not let attacks from those who seek to take us backward chill our efforts to promote equity, expand access to the American Dream, and ultimately strengthen our country’s industrial base.”
Statements from leaders in the business community:
“The 8(a) Program is one of the federal government’s most effective tools for establishing and growing minority-owned businesses,” said Chris James, President and CEO of The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. “I have witnessed its impact firsthand, both as a former SBA official and as the leader of an organization that has worked with countless 8(a) companies at all stages of their development. I applaud the SBA and Administrator Guzman for their unyielding support for the 8(a) Program and look forward to working with them to ensure minority-owned businesses have access to resources that will help them succeed.”
“We are pleased to see the 8(a) Program reopening its doors to new applicants,” said Justin Nelson, Co-Founder and President of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. “This represents a significant opportunity for the diverse business community to thrive and succeed. The NGLCC looks forward to working closely with the Small Business Administration to ensure that LGBTQ and other diverse-owned businesses that have faced discrimination in their entrepreneurial journey can share their experiences and be a part of the program. The 8(a) Program is not just about federal contracting and training; it's about empowering socially and economically disadvantaged small business owners to reach their full potential and contribute to a more inclusive, prosperous economy.”
“The SBA 8(a) Program is a powerful tool that affords Native Hawaiian Organizations (NHOs) the opportunity to improve economic stability while providing resources to address the specific needs of the Native Hawaiian community,” said Cariann Loo, President of the Native Hawaiian Organizations Association. “Native Hawaiians fall significantly behind in economic and socioeconomic indicators and face systematic inequalities that have been detrimental to our overall well-being. Since first participating in the SBA 8(a) Program in 2004, NHOs have successfully cultivated self-sufficient economic ventures that have created jobs, spurred innovation, and built community capacity. Unfortunately, Native Hawaiians are still plagued with considerable challenges. As Chairperson of the Nakupuna Foundation and President of the Native Hawaiian Organizations Association (NHOA), I look forward to continuing to work with SBA to ensure NHOs can continue to use the 8(a) program to address the disparities in our community through economic opportunities.”
“The SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program has helped thousands of businesses prepare to take on federal contracts, helping them scale, grow their networks, and fuel job creation in their communities,” said Chiling Tong, President and CEO of the National Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship. “The National Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (National ACE) is optimistic that under updated SBA guidance, the 8(a) Program will continue to be a strong tool for underserved businesses preparing to pursue federal contracts. We were encouraged by the SBA’s announcement that the 8(a) program is accepting new applications again, and we look forward to helping AAPI businesses access resources needed to apply to the program. In addition, we applaud the swift action by the SBA to ensure that the 8(a) program continues to be available to underserved businesses. National ACE looks forward to continuing our work with the SBA toward advancing our shared goal of increasing equity within the small business community.”
“The SBA 8(a) Business Development Program serves as a crucial stepping-stone for thousands of small businesses entering the contracting and procurement space,” said Angela Dingle, Chair of the Board for Women Impacting Public Policy.
“I am very impressed by the thought and responsiveness of the SBA in addressing the impacts of the recent ruling related to the valued 8(a) Program,” said Pamela Prince-Eason, President and CEO of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. “Small business is a major driver of our economy and support for small business owners is critical to an equitable playing field that can best benefit our economy.”
“The 8(a) Business Development Program has been a long-time instrument of economic equity for minority business enterprises (MBE), and NMSDC applauds the Administrator’s recent efforts to ensure the 8(a) Program can continue to deliver economic opportunities in the face of these legal challenges,” said Ying McGuire, President and CEO of National Minority Supplier Development Council.
“The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce proudly stands with the SBA and the Biden-Harris Administration, united in our unwavering commitment to the 8(a) Program,” said Ramiro Cavazos, President and CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “Access to this program is critical for the growth and development of the over five million Hispanic-owned businesses that contribute over $800 million to our nation's economy every year. Their innovation and resilience drive America’s economy. Together, through equitable access to key programs to level the economic playing field, we forge a path to brighter opportunities and shared prosperity.”
“For the past 24 years, Oweesta has fostered entrepreneurship in Native communities through the direction of capital and technical assistance,” said Chrystel Cornelius, President and CEO of the Oweesta Corporation. “Through our work, we recognize the importance of Native entrepreneurs and small businesses in accessing significant federal contracting opportunities in supporting and building Native economies and economic sovereignty. A program like the SBA’s 8(a) Program is critical to leveling the playing field in accessing opportunities to contract with the federal government.”
“The SBA reopening the 8(a) Business Development Program deserves attention from small business owners and entrepreneurs across the country,” said Rhett Buttle, President of Public Private Strategies Institute. “The program has and will continue to help entrepreneurs access the American dream to start small businesses which are the backbone of our economy.”
“The SBA’s 8(a) Program reopening is a positive step. Small businesses can face extra challenges and need a level playing field. This program can help them thrive which in turn will bolster our economy,” said Shaundell Newsome, Co-Chair of Small Business for America’s Future.
In 2021, President Biden set an overall goal of awarding 15 percent of federal prime contracting to small disadvantaged businesses by fiscal year 2025, representing a 50 percent increase in spending on these businesses from when he first took office. The 8(a) Program has helped achieve historic progress toward this goal – under President Biden, federal agencies have achieved record levels of spending on contracts with small businesses overall, and with small disadvantaged businesses specifically. The federal government’s small business prime contracting program supported the creation of 727,800 jobs nationwide in fiscal year 2022 alone.
The SBA’s 8(a) Program remains open for business. For more information on the status of this program, visit Updates on the 8(a) Business Development Program.
About the U.S. Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration helps power the American dream of business ownership. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow, expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov.