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WIPP Member Spotlight - Michelle Kantor

Posted By Laura Berry, Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Updated: Thursday, April 2, 2020
Michelle Kantor

 

Michelle Kantor

Member, McDonald Hopkins

 

WIPP Member Since 2013

 

 


What led you to join WIPP?

 

The majority of my clients over the past 30 years have been women-owned businesses. I have a passion to help them succeed and grow. WIPP is, by far, the premiere national advocate of women-owned businesses. I am a member of the board of directors of the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC), a regional partner of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) as well as general counsel to the Federation of Women Contractors in Chicago (FWC)WIPP has immensely helped both the WBDC and FWC with keeping apprised of federal laws and regulations that can impact women-owned businesses. 


As a WIPP member, what is your favorite part of being involved in the network

 

Meeting awesome women business owners and playing a part in advocating for them through my association with WIPP. 


As a law firm, how does McDonald Hopkins help federal contractors?

 

McDonald Hopkins Federal Government Contracting and Procurement Group helps federal contractors in numerous ways. I lead the group and am thrilled that we have the expertise and capacity to handle our clients’ contracting and business needs. We frequently help clients with corporate transactions including buying and selling their companies, succession planning, Novations, federal bid protests, size protests and NAICs code protests, SBA 8(a), WOSB, SDVOSB, HUBZone, WBE, MBE certification and appeals, contract review and negotiation, FAR compliance assistance, business ethics and EEO policies, requests for equitable adjustment and claims, suspension and debarment proceedings, contract disputes, SBA Mentor-Protégé agreements, joint ventures and teaming agreements, CPAR appeals, and contract disputes.

 

 

What are some common hurdles you see for federal contractors in your work? 

Common hurdles I see for federal contractors are trying to stay ahead of competition, access to capital for small businesses, and understanding SBA and federal acquisition regulations and compliance.

 

 

This month you’ll be hosting a WIPP Education Platform webinar on succession planning. Why are you passionate about that topic?

 

I have represented countless large and small women-owned businesses and other small businesses throughout my legal career. I have watched them put their life blood into their business to grow and build a legacy for their families and employees. While these business owners are technical experts in their fields, few businesses really have the time or key knowledge to plan the succession. 

 

Many women-owned businesses then end up simply closing up or selling for less than market value because they did not have a good plan in place. Being able to help business owners to plan and provide them good legal and practical advice fulfills me.

  

 

What is your biggest takeaway from WIPP advocacy actions?

 

My biggest takeaway from WIPP is never give up. Women can and do make a huge difference in shaping the policies and future of our nation. Take advantage of the wonderful benefits of your WIPP membership. 


Is there anything else you wish readers would know about WIPP?

 

The members of WIPP are so fortunate to have such top-notch leadership with Candace Waterman and her outstanding professional and very knowledgeable staff.


 

McDonald Hopkins logo

Learn more about Michelle and her team at McDonald Hopkins at https://mcdonaldhopkins.com.

Each month, WIPP highlights a member who has leveraged WIPP membership to grow their business, engage with elected officials, and/or elevate the mission of WIPP and the visibility of women-owned businesses.

Tags:  leadership  membership  spotlight 

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FAQ: What COVID-19 Relief Means to Women-Owned Businesses

Posted By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate, Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Updated: Friday, April 3, 2020

 

Please check WIPP.org/coronavirus for the latest business resources. The WIPP Advocacy Team has been breaking down this legislation on our weekly Monday webinars and we have written this FAQ to help the WIPP network. We will expand this FAQ as more questions and clarifications become necessary. Email questions to the ACE HelpDesk at membership@wipp.org.

 

Congress has passed three bills providing COVID-19 relief to individuals and businesses. 

  • The first, Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations (H.R. 6074), became law on March 6. 
  • The second, Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Families First) (H.R. 6201), became law on March 18.
  • The third bill, Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (H.R. 748), became law on March 27. 
  • Future legislation will wait until Congress returns Monday, April 20. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that the next coronavirus stimulus should include at least $760 billion over five years for infrastructure, including water projects, broadband and transportation—plus $10 billion for community health centers and more for housing and education. 

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

I need funding. What loan programs are available for me right now?

As a result of the legislation, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has four options for funding relief in the wake of COVID-19.

 

My workforce has been affected. What are the new sick leave and family leave (FMLA) requirements for employers? 

Specifically listed in the Families First legislation, employers under 500 employees are required to offer two weeks of paid sick leave to employees who are sick from the coronavirus, taking care of someone who is sick with the virus or are providing childcare due to cancelled school/daycare – without fear of losing their jobs.

The bill applies to all employers and expands the definition of who is eligible for FMLA by adding employees who are unable to work because they are providing childcare due to closed schools/daycare centers. Requirements for employers include paying employees two-thirds pay for a little more than 10 weeks. This change is effective through December 31, 2020. Employers can get a 100% quarterly payroll tax credit to cover this expense.

Visit the Department of Labor’s FAQ for specific questions regarding the Families First legislation. 


What is the guidance for federal contractors? 

A March 20 memo to the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) caused massive issues for contractors. In order to stay in business, contractors have had no other choice other than to send their employees to work – sick or not, affecting 2.5 million workers and putting an even larger population at risk. 

Section 3610 of the CARES Act H.R. 748) solves this by telling agencies to pay their contractors who cannot come to work until this pandemic is over. Keep good records and talk to your contracting officer about this new law.



How will this affect my taxes? 

The IRS explains all of the changes and is continuously updating their site: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus

 

 

 

Tags:  Advocacy  COVID-19  policy 

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Advocacy Update: Third COVID-19 Relief Bill

Posted By Elizabeth Sullivan, WIPP Advocacy Team, Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Senate passed the third bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill H.R. 748: Coronavirus aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act last night. The House is expected to vote on the legislation tomorrow. WIPP Members should pay attention to an important federal contracting provision and stay tuned for advocacy action steps. 


Legislation breakdowns from Committees:

Additional resources from the Advocacy Team:

Tags:  Advocacy  COVID-19  federal contracting  legislation 

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President's Message: The Next Six Weeks

Posted By Candace Waterman, WIPP President & CEO, Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Updated: Thursday, March 26, 2020
I hope this message finds you, your family, and your business safe and well. My thoughts are with those directly affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), including essential personnel called to serve during this time of crisis.
Candace Waterman
As part of our pivot to address challenges felt immediately by all our stakeholders, WIPP began offering free weekly Monday webinars at 2 PM ET on The Intersectionality of COVID-19 and The Small Business Community.

In addition to our ongoing programming over the next six weeks, WIPP commits to provide up-to-the-minute policy news; funding updates from our partners at corporations, strategic partner organizations, and public agencies; and a topic of importance for our small business community each week. These webinars are free and open to the public, and we welcome audience questions.

WIPP is also debuting our ACE HelpDesk, a multi-dimensional group of experts and resources who provide WIPP Members assistance with questions and basic challenges relevant to business policy, federal contacting, and private sector contracting. Email membership@wipp.org to learn more.
 
We hope you have a chance to see the tangible advocacy, community, and education benefits we will bring to the small business community during this challenging time. Please check WIPP.org/coronavirus for updates, and do not hesitate to reach out to me for assistance.

Tags:  COVID-19  President's Message 

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Guidance for Federal Contractors During COVID-19

Posted By Elizabeth Sullivan, WIPP Advocacy Team, Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Multiple documents have been issued – and expect more in the coming days – with guidance for agencies and contractors on how to operate with the disruptions from COVID-19. Make sure to check wipp.org/coronavirus for ongoing business resources, and for the most up-to-date information on this list below, visit the MSGI websiteElizabeth Sullivan


Office of Management and Budget (OMB):

Memorandum to the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies on Managing Federal Contract Performance Issues Associated with the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Margaret Weichert, Deputy Director for Management

  • Agencies should be flexible in providing extensions to performance dates if telework or other flexible work solutions, such as virtual work environments, are not possible, or if a contractor is unable to perform in a timely manner due to quarantining, social distancing, or other COVID-19 related interruptions

Harnessing Technology to Support Mission Continuity – Margaret Weichert, Deputy Director for Management 

  • Administration directs that agencies utilize technology to the greatest extent practicable to support mission continuity

Department of Defense (DoD):

Class Deviation – Progress Payment Rates – Kim Herrington, Acting Principal Director for Defense Pricing and Contracting

  • Pentagon will temporarily increase the percentages paid to contractors, known as periodic progress payments
    Increases the rate for contracts from 80% to 90% of incurred costs for large businesses
    For small businesses the rate will go from 90% to 95%

Defense Industrial Base Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce – Ellen Lord, Under Secretary for Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment

  • If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule
  • The Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce for the DIB includes workers who support the essential products and services required to meet national security commitments to the Federal Government and the U.S. Military

Contract Place of Performance – Kim Herrington, Acting Principal Director for Defense Pricing and Contracting 

  • DoD providing maximum telework flexibility for contractors 

Additional Agencies:

Additional Resources:

Tags:  COVID-19  federal contracting 

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Action Alert: COVID-19 RELIEF for Small Businesses Act of 2020

Posted By Laura Berry, Friday, March 20, 2020

WIPP knows our members are experiencing major difficulties during this challenging time, and we are joining other contracting organizations in creating a unified voice and provide concrete recommendations to assist women business owners during this crisis. Our Advocacy Team has been closely monitoring the COVID-19 RELIEF for Small Business Act of 2020.

 

WIPPActionAlert

Read the WIPP Letter to the Senate Small Business Committee and take action to support core components of the package. 

 

We Need Your Action

  • Sign on to our letter.
  • Share this Action Alert with your WOSB community. 
  • Encourage responses by 5 PM ET on Friday, March 20. 






Tags:  Action Alert  Advocacy  COVID-19 

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The Impact of COVID-19: Business Resources

Posted By Laura Berry, Friday, March 13, 2020
Updated: Thursday, March 19, 2020

As the world grapples with COVID-19, WIPP is closely monitoring the CDC's global health status and encouraging everyone to follow your local, state, and federal government guidelines for public health. Due to ongoing concerns, our organization is suspending on-site and in-person activities for the near future.

 

WIPP will still serve our business ecosystem through our online-based resources. We are committed to keeping a strong community connection for all our stakeholders throughout this challenging time. As we move forward, we are thinking about business continuity, especially for our small business owners, our corporate and agency partners, and our strategic organizational partners.


 

WIPPWebinar

WIPP Up-To-The-Minute Webinars

Monday, March 16: Download the recording

 

WIPP President & CEO Candace Waterman moderates a discussion about the crisis response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and resources for small business owners. Panelists included

  • Barbara (Barb) Carson, U.S. Small Business Administration Deputy Associate Administrator, Office of Government Contracting & Business Development
  • Angela Dingle, President & CEO of ExNihilo Management and WIPP Board Chair
  • Courtney Fairchild, President & CEO of Global Services and WIPP Vice Chair
  • Rebecca Boenigk, CEO of Neutral Posture and WIPP Treasurer
  • Ann Sullivan, President & CEO of MSGI and WIPP Chief Advocate

 


 

Business Resources

Last updated: 03/19/2020

We will update this list of resources and news as it becomes available:

 

United States Congressional updates


WIPP Agency Partner-Provided Resources:


WIPP Corporate Partner-Provided Resources: 


WIPP Member-Provided Resources: 


For more information, follow WIPP at Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. For questions, please email membership@wipp.org.



Tags:  community  COVID-19  resource 

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Access to Childcare: A Dual Issue for Small Businesses

Posted By Elizabeth Sullivan, WIPP Advocacy Team, Friday, March 13, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, March 11, 2020

No one disputes the need for access to quality and affordable childcare. Like small business issues, this has been a rallying cry for both sides of the political aisle. However, something has been missing in this discussion – recognizing that childcare providers are also small business owners. 

Elizabeth Sullivan The House Small Business Committee recently held a hearing on this issue, Taking Care of Business: How Childcare is Important for Regional Economies. This hearing was personal because I worked in several daycares in Chicago, including teaching at a Head Start center, and I saw the needs and problems firsthand.

One of the things discussed were public-private partnerships. Witness Dan Levi of the Black Hawk Childcare Coalition in Iowa highlighted how these have positively impacted his community. The Coalition provides support to communities with detailed business plans, architectural review of possible projects, funding opportunity consultation, community engagement tactics, and facilitation of public-private partnerships. Grants from organizations such as the Iowa Women’s Foundation help childcare centers in his community with financial stability and resources that are free and distributed through the Child Care Resource & Referral offices around the state.

Also discussed was the regulatory burden on childcare centers. I can’t emphasize enough how this impacts childcare operations. While there are necessary regulations to ensure health and safety, complying with these regulations is a substantial time commitment. Not to mention it sometimes turns into the sole focus of the daycare operations – pushing classroom issues aside.

There is an increased role for the SBA – helping these childcare small business owners with the business side of the house. For example, the Chicago Women’s Business Center has many resources for childcare centers. However, many childcare centers, including the ones I worked in, have no idea these resources exist. 

During my time at the Head Start center in Chicago, Illinois, the state was in a funding standoff, and there was no subsidized money coming from the state to help families pay for the cost of childcare. Childcare center owners had a decision to make – charge families the full amount or try to float the cost. In this case, the center served 100% low-income children. The owner, like many others, were forced to ask families to pay the entire amount – or their children would be turned away. As you can imagine, this caused a huge strain on the families served by the center. 

SBA could contribute its business instruction and lending programs to these childcare center owners. Access to better business resources would equip these owners with strategies to deal with cash flow issues and funding lapses. 

A perspective I felt was missing from the hearing was the duality of childcare centers also being small businesses. One of the ways Congress has attempted to tackle this issue is through language in the FY19 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill. Included was the ability for states to use funds to Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funds to strengthen the business practices of childcare providers to expand the supply and improve the quality of child care services. Areas of support for childcare providers may include, but are not limited to, such practices related to fiscal management, budgeting, record-keeping, as well as hiring, developing, and retaining qualified staff.

Childcare issues are not simply a family issue—it is also an employer issue. Employers lose $4 billion annually due to absenteeism. Many of those days are due to lack of adequate childcare. This Committee hearing was a good start in raising awareness that childcare centers are also small businesses. It’s time to find more resources for these business owners – the issue of quality childcare is not going away.



The WIPP Advocacy Team provides thought leadership on WIPP Policy Priorities

This column focuses on the following priority:

 

Rethink workplace development

Key to the success of women-owned businesses is human capital – a dynamic workforce that meets the needs of an ever-changing business environment. Government and business need to work together to ready a workforce that can meet those challenges.

 

Tags:  Advocacy  childcare  development  workplace 

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Advocacy Update: SBA Microloan Program Goes To Markup

Posted By WIPP Advocacy Team, Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Updated on March 11, 2020 at 1 PM EDT

 

Today, only 16% of conventional loans and 4.4% of commercial loan dollars go to women-owned businesses. One of WIPP’s Policy Priorities, to “Increase access to capital for women-owned businesses,” continues to gain traction through legislation modernizing the SBA Microloan Program. 

The House Committee on Small Business (HSBC) held a markup March 11 where both SBA Microloan Program modernization bills, H.R. 6079 and H.R. 6078, passed the Committee unanimously without amendments.Chair Nydia Velázquez acknowledged WIPP for its support. Next stop will be vote by the full House.

 March 7, 2019 HSBC Hearing

As I reminder, the SBA Microloan Program assists entrepreneurs in obtaining loans under $50,000. SBA provides funds to nonprofit intermediary lenders. Intermediaries, in turn, provide microloans to small businesses. At 48.7%, women are the greatest consumers of these microloans.

In March 2019, at a HSBC hearing on Modernization of the Microloan Program, Michelle Richards, Executive Director of the Great Lakes Women’s Business Council, testified on behalf of WIPP. She called attention to the 1/55th rule as 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. Current law 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 every state, restricting the availability of capital for small businesses in larger states and underutilization of available funds by smaller states.

On the Senate side, our Advocacy Team worked closely on this issue with Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) last April, who introduced the Microloan Program Enhancement Act (S. 996). The bill adopts two of WIPP’s key recommendations on improvements that should be made to the Microloan Program. Read more

 

 

Tags:  Advocacy  microloan  SBA 

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Appropriations Season: The Process Behind Funding the Government

Posted By WIPP Advocacy Team, Monday, March 9, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, March 10, 2020

It’s that time again - groups of all different interests are preparing to flock to the Hill to get in their appropriations requests. Spring is always the kick-off point for the appropriations and budget process to begin for the following fiscal year and it is time to get the ball rolling. 

In February of each year, the President submits a budget request to Congress. It is important to note that the President’s budget is not a binding document and should be thought of as more of a “wish list” than an actual budget. The agencies (which, as a reminder, are headed by a person of the President’s choosing), release their budget requests; the individual House and Senate committees release their views and estimates of what programs within their jurisdictions should be allocated; and, in March, the House and Senate Budget Committees draft budget resolutions, a final product of which is due on April 15. 

The House and Senate generally pass separate budget bills, which set the top-level spending number for the next fiscal year. One thing you might not realize about the budget is that it does not have to go to the President for approval and it is not a law – the budget is the guide that appropriators use in setting appropriations for individual agencies and programs. 

Last year, Congress put into place a two-year budget plan, which governs this year’s budget numbers as well.

During the time that the Budget Committees are beginning their work, the Appropriations Committees, as well as individual Member offices, are accepting requests from groups and constituents to be included in the process. 

This year, WIPP submitted 2021 Appropriations Requests advocating for funding for critical SBA programs that are beneficial for women entrepreneurs, like the Microloan Program and Women’s Business Centers. Our efforts have proven successful the last few years, and we have seen increases in funding for nearly all programs we advocated for.

Read the 2021 WIPP Appropriations Request Letters to the House Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Committee on Appropriations:

After requests have been submitted, the House drafts its appropriations bills, usually in May or June. There are 12 of these bills that set individual spending levels for individual agencies. They are accompanied by “directives,” that include specific instructions to agencies. The individual bills must be passed out of the Appropriations Subcommittee under which it falls (e.g., the Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government has jurisdiction over SBA), the full Appropriations Committee, and the full House. The bills can see a number of amendments before they are passed.


Meanwhile, in the Senate, the process is identical; however, under the Constitution, all budget and appropriations measures must originate in the House as all revenue-generating measures must begin there. Once both chambers have each completed their appropriations bills, they must reconcile the differences between the two in what is referred to as Conference. If everything is running on schedule, the Conference should take place in September, right before the end of the fiscal year on September 30.

But, as you likely know, everything is not usually running on schedule. More often than not, Congress passes at least one, if not more, continuing resolution (CR), which extends funding at the levels from the previous fiscal year. Passing a CR prevents the government from shutting down while Congressional leaders come to an agreement on the 12 spending bills. Frequently, the bills end up being passed as a package, referred to as an “omnibus,” around the end of the calendar year, sometimes later. 

By that time, it’s time for the whole process to start all over again. The WIPP Advocacy Team will talk through our 2021 Appropriations Requests during the monthly Policy Update webinar on Wednesday, March 11. For questions or comments, reach out to advocacy@wipp.org.

 

 

Tags:  Advocacy  Appropriations  budget 

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more Calendar

7/8/2020
WIPP Policy Update - July 2020

9/9/2020
WIPP Policy Update - September 2020

10/14/2020
WIPP Policy Update - October 2020

11/11/2020
WIPP Policy Update - November 2020

Featured Members
Michelle KantorMember, McDonald Hopkins, Chicago, IL — April 2020 Member Spotlight

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