SBA’s 8a Business Development Program: A Brilliant Move for Smart ATI
Lori Smart is the president and founder of Rochester, NH based Smart Assistive Technologies, LLC d/b/a Smart ATI. Her firm attained 8a certification from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) in 2009. SBA 8(a) certification allows a firm to participate in a nine year Business Development Program that assists eligible socially and economically disadvantaged individuals to develop and grow their businesses. The assistance includes one-on-one counseling, training, workshops and other management and technical guidance. Certified firms are also considered small disadvantaged business concerns for federal contracting purposes.
Lori Smart founded her company in 1996 with a vision to increase educational support for people with disabilities through innovative assistive technologies. Focusing on this niche segment of information technology enabled her to utilize her knowledge of software and programming to deliver a unique service that was desperately needed for people in NH with disabilities. For Lori Smart and Smart ATI this was just the beginning.
In the years that followed, the company delivered software products and training to visually impaired individuals as well as those whose access to technology was limited due to physical handicaps. Her services enabled those with disabilities to have greater access to education and employment. Smart worked with several state rehabilitative programs and eventually expanded her scope of business to provide construction services to make homes accessible and offices compliant with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In 2006, Governor Lynch recognized Smart ATI for excellence in helping people with disabilities for more than a decade.
Her start in the SBA 8a program came in an unconventional manner. While most 8a firms land their first contract after entering the program Lori Smart discovered the 8a program as she landed her first subcontract serving the U.S. Department of Treasury in the development and presentation of an intense training program. She received an excellent performance evaluation and a letter of recommendation from the IRS Program Manager and through this experience she learned more about the potential opportunities available through the 8a program.
Following an extensive application and certification process Lori worked closely with SBA Business Opportunity Specialist Rachael Roderick of the SBA District Office in Concord, NH. As part of the 8a program Lori has focused on branching out beyond software to build upon a very positive reputation in the construction industry. To date this strategy has resulted in a growing portfolio that includes more than a dozen federal projects.
Today Smart ATI delivers both information technology and construction services to federal, state and private sector customers offering competitive pricing and exemplary performance and customer service. Commenting on her success and appreciation of the SBA’s 8a program Lori Smart said, “Smart ATI has the advantage of being flexible and responsive to the needs of our customers. We have a great in-house team of professionals with over 25 years of industry experience. Our commitment to unwavering integrity with the highest standards for quality, safety and customer satisfaction have been recognized and affirmed by repeat business with a growing list of clients which now include eight federal agencies. The SBA’s 8(a) program has definitely opened some doors for us, but you have to be ready to deliver competitive and competent service if you are going to be successful.”
To learn more about the Smart ATI’s capabilities visit www.smartati.com or call (603) 330-3533.
For more information about SBA’ s 8(a) program, visit .www.sba.gov/8abd6or call the NH District Office at (603) 225-1400.