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Our organizational blog featuring the most important news in WIPP advocacy for women-owned businesses; federal procurement education, programs, and opportunities; and signature events celebrating and engaging with this powerful community.

 

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WIPP Driving Legislation

Posted By WIPP Advocacy Team, Thursday, May 2, 2019

Two recent bills introduced in the House and Senate, respectively, incorporate WIPP’s recommendations for increasing access to capital and creating parity for women-owned small businesses:

 

  • Making the Microloan Program More Effective: Elimination of the SBA Microloan Program’s 1/55th rule is a top WIPP priority, and the Microloan Program Enhancement Act (S. 996) would accomplish that. Women consume 48.7% of loans through the Program, which assists borrowers obtaining loans under $50,000. Read our letter of support.
  • Requiring 15-Day Payment to Small Federal Contractors: Reinstating the accelerated payments policy for small contractors and subcontractors that expired in 2017, House Small Business Committee Members introduced the Accelerated Payments for Small Businesses Act (H.R. 2332). The bill sets a goal for federal agencies to pay both small prime contractors and large primes with small subcontractors within 15 days.

Tags:  Advocacy  legislation 

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WIPP Asks Congress to Fund Critical Entrepreneurship Resources for FY2020

Posted By Admin, Tuesday, April 30, 2019

 

It’s appropriations season in Washington and WIPP recently submitted formal FY2020 Appropriations Requests to Congress. WIPP is advocating for robust funding for SBA Programs, including Women’s Business Centers (WBCs), the Microloan Program, the SBA Office of Advocacy and the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC). WIPP’s past requests and advocacy for these programs have helped ensure Congress funds them at strong levels. 


The House Appropriations Committee will begin holding hearings for FY2020 funding in early summer, with the Senate to follow shortly after. Read WIPP’s FY2020 Appropriations Request Letter.

 

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What Is "NDAA" and Why Do I Keep Hearing About It?

Posted By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate, Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Around this time of year, you will start to see communications from the WIPP Advocacy Team around getting legislation important to women-owned businesses “into the NDAA.” If you have been around long enough, you have probably heard me decode this legislative strategy. WIPP has used this vehicle to pass a number of bills into law – including sole source authority for WOSBs in the FY2015 NDAA. So, the question is, how can legislation about small business wind up in something authorizing defense? Let’s start with a little history of the Act.
AnnSullivan
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is one of the last “must pass” pieces of legislation left in Congress. Since the Constitution requires that Congress provides for a common defense, this bill is considered to be “must pass.” Therefore, every year for the past 58 years, Congress has passed the NDAA. Not to be confused with defense appropriations, with “defense” in the title, the purpose of the massive bill is to authorize defense policies and programs under which the funding levels are set. 

Even though the bill is “must pass,” that does not necessarily mean it must pass on time. In 33 years, the NDAA has been passed only three times before the start of the new fiscal year. However, one of the three times was last year’s FY2019 NDAA. The other two years the NDAA was signed on time were FY1997 and FY1978. ***Note: the calendar year the bill is passed and the fiscal year for the NDAA do not align. Congress is always working on it for the next fiscal year; therefore, Congress is currently working on the FY2020 NDAA. 

So where does small business enter the mix? The bill falls under the jurisdiction of the Armed Services Committees in both the House and Senate, not the Small Business Committees. Each year, both sides of Congress craft their own version of the NDAA to pass in their respective chambers. Next, they come together with negotiators and hammer out the differences. Since this is not under Small Business Committee jurisdiction, adding small business provisions is a more internal process. Meaning, you won’t see us tell you about a public hearing to review proposed small business provisions, instead the House and Senate Small Business Committees work with the Armed Services Committee Members to include relevant small business provisions. The NDAA has not always had small business changes. In recent years, small business advocates in Congress realized that a stated U.S. national security policy—the need for a strong industrial base— justifies inclusion of small business legislation. The NDAA quickly became the go-to legislation for procurement changes to small business programs.

A prime candidate for inclusion this year is a bill that would help bring parity to sole source authority for small businesses, especially WOSBs/EDWOSBs. The Expanding Opportunities for Small Businesses Act of 2019 (H.R. 190) would increase sole source contracts for women, veterans, and HUBZones at the amounts of $4 million and $7 million each year, instead of the life of the contract. It also raises the sole source dollar threshold for construction and manufacturing from $6.5 to $7 million. This legislation passed the House and is ready for Senate action. With category management shifting the way the government buys, contracting officers will have a bigger incentive to award work to small businesses if this bill passes. It’s time to mobilize around this huge opportunity for women-owned small businesses. The NDAA might just be the mechanism to get it done. 

Tags:  Advocacy  legislation  policy 

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Capital Access for Women a Growing Priority for DC Lawmakers

Posted By Jennifer Mangone, WIPP Advocacy Team, Monday, April 22, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, April 30, 2019
March was a busy time for WIPP here in Washington. From testifying before the House Small Business Committee (HSBC) to hosting forums on women’s entrepreneurship in both the House and Senate, the importance of WIPP’s 2019 Policy Pillars was heard ‘round the Hill. After all that work in such a short span, one of our Pillars, Increasing Access to Capital for Women-Owned Businesses, is already gaining traction through legislation on the SBA Microloan Program.

The Microloan Program assists entrepreneurs in obtaining loans under $50,000. SBA provides nonprofit intermediary lenders with direct loans. Intermediaries, in turn, provide Microloans to small businesses. At 48.7%, women are the greatest consumers of these Microloans.

Testifying on behalf of WIPP in a HSBC hearing on Modernization of the Microloan Program, Michelle Richards, Executive Director of the Great Lakes Women’s Business Council, called the 1/55th rule the number one pain point for microlenders and advocated for its elimination in any modernization of the program. 

The 1/55th rule, which was implemented as part of the pilot program in 1991, requires that for the first half of each fiscal year the lesser of $800,000 (or 1/55th of available loan funds) is made available to loan intermediaries in each state. This rule restricts the availability of capital for small businesses in larger states.

Our team worked closely on this issue with Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who just introduced the Microloan Program Enhancement Act. The bill adopts two of WIPP’s key recommendations on improvements that should be made to the Microloan Program.

First, the bill would eliminate the 1/55th rule. Second, Senator Duckworth’s bill would require SBA to make publicly available previously unreleased data, another prime recommendation from WIPP’s testimony. The data would include the number of small businesses that remain in business, the number of jobs created and retained, and the impact of the elimination of the 1/55th rule on rural areas by consumers of the Microloan Program.

Meanwhile, back on the House side, Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO) recently used a hearing in the House Financial Services Committee (HFS) with CEOs of large banks as an opportunity to ask the CEO of Goldman Sachs about initiatives to right the discrepancies in investment to women-owned businesses. Rep. Tipton is the Co-Chair of the House Small Business Caucus and co-led a roundtable on women’s entrepreneurship with WIPP last month.

Today, only 16% of conventional loans and 4.4% of commercial loan dollars go to women-owned businesses. WIPP will continue to push for increased access to capital for women and applauds those in Congress like Senator Duckworth and Congressman Tipton, who are pushing with us.

Tags:  access to capital  microloan  SBA 

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Senate To Reauthorize SBA Programs For First Time in 8 Years

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 15, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, April 30, 2019
The Senate Small Business Committee has started the process of reauthorizing all of the programs in the Small Business Act. This is no small feat – reauthorizing includes taking a look at SBA’s contracting programs, entrepreneurial development programs, and access to capital programs, just to name a few. 

In the past, the Committee reauthorized the entire Act every three years, but in 2011, Congress stopped all together. Senate Small Business Committee Chair Marco Rubio (R-FL) is looking to modernize the programs and improve their management at SBA. The Senate Committee will hold hearings over the next few months examining these programs. Visit the schedule of hearings.

Tags:  Senate small business 

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Mounting Debt

Posted By Ann Sullivan, Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Recently, I heard Congressman Chip Roy from Texas state that the U.S. accumulates $100 million in debt every hour. That is a staggering, unsustainable number. It begs the question – is anyone in Congress concerned about this mounting debt, given that it is budget season? Does anyone care?

AnnSullivan According to the former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, “Despite rising debt, interest rates have remained low, and a fiscal crisis has not occurred. That is because private demand for business investment has been sluggish in a slow recovery, the Federal Reserve has provided liquidity through its unconventional monetary policy, and financial markets often ignore unsustainable fiscal conditions for an extended time.” He goes on to say: “Now, the imperative must be to develop a political strategy, and, in that context, a narrative, that persuades the broad American public that its economic well-being depends on getting our fiscal house in order.”

Given the absence of a financial crisis, elected officials have not convinced the American public that mounting debt, even to the tune of $100 million an hour, requires action. The place where fiscal policy starts is the Senate and House Budget Committees. Since the Senate Budget Committee just passed their FY2020 budget resolution, it is instructive to note the positioning of both sides. The Republican-controlled Senate Committee lauded the plan as cutting half a trillion dollars in deficits and debt over the next five years. According to the Chair, Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), the Senate Resolution does not increase budget caps put into place in 2011 by the Budget Control Act, thus limiting spending.

In contrast, the top Senate Democrat on the Committee, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), said this: “The Senate Republican Budget is immoral and bad economic policy. In almost every instance this budget ignores the needs of ordinary Americans and what the American people want, while at the same time protecting the interests of the wealthiest and most powerful people in this country – many of whom are the largest GOP campaign contributors. This is a budget that moves this country rapidly in the direction of oligarchy. It constitutes a massive transfer of wealth from the working class to the billionaire class.”

The House Budget Committee, controlled by Democrats since January, has not yet announced its deliberation schedule on the FY2020 budget. However, there appears to be disagreement on the levels on non-defense spending among Democrats. The Chair, Representative John Yarmuth (D-KY), is pressing to lift the spending caps imposed in 2011, allowing the Congress to spend more money without requiring spending cuts to offset the decreases.

So much for a political strategy. And frankly, so much for public engagement. While some in Congress have sounded the alarm, there appears to be little appetite for making hard choices necessary to reduce the debt.

Meanwhile, while I have been writing this article, the debt just went up another $100 million. Reduction of the debt falls into the same bucket many other issues facing our country drop into—solving problems only when a crisis demands it. Short of a voter groundswell, the debt will keep piling up. You should know where your Congressional delegation stands on this important issue. Are they concerned? Have they proposed any solutions to reducing the debt? Or are they waiting for a financial crisis to force the issue?

It seems to me that asking elected officials for big solutions is a reasonable request. Answers won’t be formulated unless the voters demand it.

Tags:  Advocacy  budget  Treasury 

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Senate Committee Passes WIPP-Supported Cybersecurity Bills

Posted By Elizabeth Sullivan, Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Senate Small Business Committee passed two WIPP supported bipartisan cybersecurity bills last week, the Small Business Cyber Training Act of 2019 (S. 771) and the SBA Cyber Awareness Act (S. 772). These bills are a step in the right direction to help small businesses with cybersecurity compliance as well as hold the SBA accountable to secure the sensitive data it collects. The next stop is a vote by the full Senate.

 

WIPP submitted a letter endorsing both bills to Committee Chair Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Tags:  Advocacy  cybersecurity  Senate small business 

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2019 IRS Webinars

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The IRS has released a series of webinars to explain the new tax reform provisions that affect small businesses, including pass-through entities, the Qualified Business Income Deduction, and Opportunity Zones.

 

Tags:  IRS  resource 

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WIPP Policy News

Posted By WIPP Advocacy Team, Tuesday, March 5, 2019

 

House Small Business Committee Supports SBA Entrepreneurial Development Programs

The House Small Business Committee held a hearing with witnesses representing SBA entrepreneurial development (ED) programs. Witnesses asked Congress to increase funding for Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), Women’s Business Centers (WBCs), Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs), and SCORE. Committee Members expressed continued support for these programs.

SBA Official Reports Progress on Loan Approvals Since Shutdown

Increasing access to capital for women-owned businesses is one of WIPP’s six Policy Pillars. Bill Manger, who heads the SBA’s Office of Capital Access, told the House Small Business Committee last month that SBA has approved over 7,900 loans totaling $3.7 billion since the end of the shutdown. Manger said that SBA is actively addressing any delays in approving loans that were held up during the shutdown.

President Highlights Infrastructure

Another WIPP pillar is investing in infrastructure improvements. In remarks recently, President Trump encouraged the nation’s governors to tell their Members of Congress to get to work on an infrastructure package. The president also highlighted his workforce development initiatives - rethinking workforce development is another WIPP pillar - and the inclusion of Opportunity Zones in the 2017 tax law.

 

SBA Office of Advocacy Releases Report on State of Small Business Lending

The SBA Office of Advocacy has a new report out on the state of lending to small businesses.

Top findings include the following:

  • Large business loans (more than $1M) grew at a rate of 5.7% from 2016-2017, while small business loans ($1M or less) grew by only 0.8%
  • Large lenders are responsible for most small business loans (53.2%)
  • Small business loan demand, application approval rates, and credit quality were steady from Q4 of 2017 to Q1 of 2018

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And...We’re Off to the Races

Posted By Elizabeth Sullivan, WIPP Advocacy Team, Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Senate Small Business Committee holds first hearing of the year with Small Business Administration Administrator Linda McMahon

 

The first Committee hearing in a new Congress sets the tone for the two years ahead—priorities, attitudes and bipartisanship (or lack thereof) are on display. The Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship held their first hearing on February 13 by hearing from Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Linda McMahon.

Three areas of focus bubbled up during the hearing. Challenges facing women-owned small businesses, access to capital and issues around the workforce. 

Committee Members repeatedly mentioned challenges facing women-owned small businesses. Issues from access to capital to access to contracts were raised, signaling the Committee’s dedication to implementing policies that help WOSB’s succeed. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) raised two important questions for WOSB federal contractors. She addressed the delay in a report that was commissioned by Congress to the SBA to look government-wide at small business participation on multiple award contracts (MACs). This legislation was in direct response to WIPP’s report, Do Not Enter: Women Shut Out of U.S. Government’s Biggest Contracts (October 2016). The data is desperately needed to understand the landscape of small business contracting and create future policies that ensure fairness in the federal marketplace. 

Senator Ernst also raised the importance of ensuring small businesses are not shut out of opportunities as the government continues to buy through large contracts. The Administrator pointed to small business goals as a mechanism to hold agencies accountable. WIPP has partnered and participated in roundtables with other business organizations to determine the best path forward to safeguarding small businesses during this shift in acquisition policy. Furthermore, the Administrator shared that the SBA will be launching an innovative interactive digital platform to provide resources for women entrepreneurs, which they predict will expand their outreach capabilities from 150,000 to one million users. 

Another common thread throughout the Committee Member’s questions was access to capital. This is nothing new – women-owned firms still only get 4% of all commercial loan dollars and about 2% of venture capital funding. Additionally, only 18% of 7(a) loans in FY2017 went to women-owned firms and 27% to minority-owned firms. In response, the Administrator expressed the importance of SBA’s Capital Access programs and utilizing them to the fullest extent possible. Senator Duckworth pointed to the need for enhancement of SBA’s micro loan program as a possible solution. Furthermore, in her testimony, the Administrator highlighted that SBA was able to reduce loan processing times by half and provided $60 billion in loan guarantees. Despite this success, the Administrator committed to working to increase awareness of SBA loan offerings and resources for acquiring capital. 

Issues around workforce dominated many questions posed to the Administrator. This aligns with WIPP’s pillar-- rethinking workforce development. Questions centered around the plight of low-wage federal contractor employees and protection from future government shutdowns. Additionally, Senator Coons asked the Administrator what she saw as workforce challenges for small businesses as she traveled around the country last year. Administrator McMahon identified access to a skilled workforce and expressed SBA’s commitment to tackling this problem through its resources around the country.  

The Committee’s priorities align with several of WIPP’s six Policy Pillars. We look forward to continuing work with the Senate Small Business Committee and the SBA around these issues.

Tags:  Advocacy  Congress  hearings  SBA 

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WIPP Policy Update - June 2019

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WIPP Policy Update - July 2019

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7/31/2019
ChallengeHER: Understanding How the Government Works: Follow the Money

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