Federal Agencies Collaborate on South Side Small Business Event
CHICAGO, IL — On May 14, federal agencies and agency contracting officers gathered at Englewood’s Kennedy King College to encourage local small businesses to seek federal contracting and procurement opportunities.
Sponsored by Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the event, titled “Getting Back 2 Business,” also included representatives from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and its partner service providers as well as the U.S. General Services Administration, which is responsible for billions of dollars of federal small business contracts each year.
After remarks by Erica Holmes, Kennedy King’s Vice President of Academic Affairs, HHS Regional Administrator, Kathleen Falk, addressed the audience of local small businesses and emphasized her agency’s commitment to small business contracting and engagement.
Bo Steiner, SBA’s Illinois District Director, explained his agency’s role in supporting federal small business procurement efforts across the federal government. “President Obama made small business contracting a priority for his Administration,” Steiner said. The Obama Administration affirmed its goal of ensuring 23 percent of the federal government’s $500 billion annual expenditures go to small businesses. “That represents over $100 billion a year.”
Mr. Steiner also noted Obama Administration efforts to emphasize each agency’s responsibility to meet its small business contracting goals, allow contracting officers to set aside contracts exclusively for small businesses in multiple award situations and root out big business frauds posing as small businesses.
Of his own agency’s commitment to the Administration’s goals, Steiner noted SBA’s annual scorecard assessing each federal agency’s small business contracting efforts. “Our grades hold agency heads accountable for their small business contracting performance,” he said.
SBA also works with its network of partners in lending and small business counseling to provide access to capital and business management advice to businesses in communities like Englewood. “Sometimes it seems like the SBA is the best kept secret in the government,” said Steiner. He concluded by noting, “Our resources for small business aren’t solely to support government contracting, but are focused on giving you everything you need to make your enterprise successful. Our goal is to make sure that you have the access and opportunity you need to succeed.”
The agency’s resource partners such as SCORE and the Illinois Small Business Development Center network help entrepreneurs and small businesses understand what they need to do to prepare themselves to access federal contracts.
The event proceeded with presentations from the other federal agencies as well as Goldman Sachs’s 10,000 Small Businesses small business management training program. Later, federal agency contracting officers held matchmaking sessions with small business attendees to learn more about what businesses in the community offer and how to ensure they understand how to compete for federal contracts.