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Advocacy Update: WOSB Final Rule Highlights

Posted By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate, Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has published its final rule for the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) and Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB) certification. 
AnnSullivan
The impetus for this rule is the FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which directed the SBA to create its own WOSB/EDWOSB certification. At the same time, the Congress authorized the sole source authority for the WOSB/EDWOSB program. WIPP has worked with SBA throughout this process, submitting comments with input from our members. We are thrilled to see that issues we raised were included in the final rule, such as

  •  excluding retirement accounts from net worth;
  •  harmonizing the economic disadvantage qualification across socio-economic contracting programs; and
  • continuing to allow third-party certifiers. 

The benefits of this implementation include simplifying the process for contracting officers to use the program and can rely on SBA certification with confidence. This update will require no additional document review, will replace the WOSB Repository, and will reduce amount of time to complete a certification. 

 

Definition of WOSB: At least 51% owned and controlled by one or more women who are United States citizens. 

Website: certify.SBA.gov 

Effective dates: Rule goes into effect on July 15, 2020. SBA will begin processing certifications on October 15, 2020. 

Highlights:

  1. Retirement accounts will now be excluded from calculations of an economically disadvantaged individual's net worth, irrespective of the individual's age.
  2. Makes 8(a) qualifications for economic disadvantage the same as EDWOSB program. Qualifications include: (a) net worth cannot exceed $750,000; (b) adjusted gross income averaged over the three preceding years cannot exceed $350,000; (c) An individual will generally not be considered economically disadvantaged if the fair market value of all her assets (including her primary residence and the value of the applicant/participant firm) exceeds $6 million and (d) retirement funds are now excluded from net worth calculation.
  3. Only SBA certified WOSBs can use the WOSB set-aside/sole program, but agencies can count  contracts to women outside the program that are only self-certified toward their WOSB goal.
  4. Third-party certifications are accepted as are those certified by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs CVE, and 8(a) certifications. 8(a) certified are automatically considered to qualify as EDWOSBs. DBE certifications are not accepted.
  5. A business performing on a long-term WOSB or EDWOSB contract (i.e., one in excess of five years) must represent that it is a certified WOSB or EDWOSB in order for the award to continue to count towards an agency's WOSB goal. For new WOSB and EDWOSB set-aside contracts, a business must be able to demonstrate that it has applied for certification before the date it submitted a bid, and that it has not previously sought and been denied certification. For new WOSB or EDWOSB sole-source contracts, a business must already be certified at the time it seeks to obtain the sole-source contract.
  6. Applications will be processed within 90 days. If denied, an applicant can reapply for certification after 90 days.
  7. Requires annual certification affidavit and recertification every three years.
  8. SBA will give priority to a firm who has been awarded a contract under the program but the application is still pending before the SBA. Determination will be within 15 days.

Tags:  Advocacy  regulatory  SBA  WOSB 

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President's Message - Robust Grant Programs Needed In Next Wave of Relief

Posted By Candace Waterman, WIPP President & CEO, Wednesday, May 6, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, May 5, 2020

This week I am celebrating my second anniversary leading WIPP, and this year also marks 15 years working to elevate women-owned businesses at the regional and national levels. During this celebratory time, we are also in the midst of a crisis that has already left an indelible impression not only because of how much it changed our lives, but also for how quickly this community has come together like never before. I have never been more proud to stand together with our partner organizations, corporate partners, and especially our stalwart members who continue to define the calm in the storm. 
Candace Waterman
I do not need to tell you that this pandemic has taken an enormous toll on women-owned businesses. Our recent impact survey showed more than 71% of the respondents reported a decrease in business. Approximately 73% of our survey participants had applied for federal funding, the majority listing either the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) programs. On a more positive note, 89% of respondents have been able to continue operations during this pandemic as of April 15.

Another survey-based study, "Women-Owned Businesses & PPP Survey Results," found that “women-owned businesses asked for and received less money than national averages” in the first round of PPP funding. In addition, “women relied heavily on large national banks and, when they did, their likelihood of obtaining a PPP loan plummeted.” We are watching the progress of second-round funding through the PPP and EIDL and will keep you updated.  

In the coming weeks, more relief is expected. Given the urgency of capital, we are asking Congress to consider revamping the programs to separate them into loans and grants rather than a combination of the two. While small businesses will need loans with generous terms in the recovery stage of this pandemic, they need grants now. 

Joining your voice with WIPP is necessary to make an impact on Capitol Hill. Contact your Representative and Senators today and share our letter urging small business grants rather than forgivable loans. If you have questions, please contact the WIPP ACE HelpDesk at membership@wipp.org

 

 

Tags:  Advocacy  leadership  President's Message 

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WIPP Works In Washington: What's Next?

Posted By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate, Wednesday, May 6, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, May 5, 2020
COVID-19 relief took the form of four bills passed by Congress in the last two months. All of this is centered around relief for workers and employers hit by COVID-19, including small business loan and forgiveness programs, aid to hospitals and money for test deployment, employer required sick leave, and direct payments to Americans. 
AnnSullivan
A staggering $2 trillion was spent in these four bills and the Federal Reserve Bank spent an estimated additional $4 trillion on relief. We learned the demand from small businesses for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster loans (EIDL) far exceeded available funding. Everyone is curious about the direction of future aid for obvious reasons. What’s going to be in the next bill or is there going to be a next bill? 

My best guess is that the next Congressional bill will be a hybrid of relief and recovery. Much is left to do on the relief side and refinement of the programs put in place by previous legislation. When programs are drafted in a hurry, unexpected issues arise that need to be addressed. Evidence is the number of guidance documents issued by the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Department of Treasury, and the IRS surrounding small business loan programs. For federal contractors, implementation of Section 3610 relief has generated extensive documentation. The next bill will most certainly contain changes to existing programs.

Is Congress going to deliver additional relief by providing additional funding for the PPP or EIDL programs? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) suggested that Congress may slow down future relief, saying "until we can begin to open up the economy, we can’t spend enough money to solve the problem." Relief to state and localities has yet to materialize but is widely considered to be a major part of any future bill.

As governors start loosening restrictions on stay-at-home orders and industry starts to slowly reopen, the focus is slowly shifting toward economic recovery. Congressional leaders are looking at successful programs deployed during the Great Recession (2007-2009) that could be helpful during this pandemic. Another much talked about idea is a stimulus, such as a massive infrastructure program. This would not only cover shovel ready construction projects, but also broadband, telecommunications and technology infrastructure. 

Also bubbling up are tax deductions and credits for businesses who will need relief for many months to come. Businesses are asking for special liability restrictions due to COVID-19 in order to feel comfortable bringing employees back to work and opening their doors to consumers. The Senate has signaled this as a priority, but their House counterparts are not so sure. 

Lastly, the federal marketplace offers a tremendous opportunity for small business recovery, but the rules need to change to allow more dollars to flow to these businesses.

The “What’s Next” list is overwhelming because the need is so great. Our advocacy team is dedicated to ensuring women business owners have a voice in all of these deliberations. That’s the mission of WIPP – we intend on keeping it that way.

Tags:  Advocacy  COVID-19  legislation 

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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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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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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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WIPP Advocacy Roundup - February 2020

Posted By WIPP Advocacy Team, Wednesday, February 26, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, February 25, 2020

WIPP-Supported Women’s History Museum Bill Passed the House

 

The Smithsonian Women's History Museum Act (H.R. 1980) passed the House and is now headed to the Senate. The bill establishes a council that will make recommendations to the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Museum on the planning, design, and construction of the museum. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY); Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA); Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). Read WIPP’s March 2018 letter of support for the bill


Meeting with New SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza


Team WIPP Meets Administrator CarranzaOn Wednesday, February 19, WIPP President & CEO Candace Waterman and WIPP Chief Advocate Ann Sullivan met with new SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza. The Administrator knows WIPP’s work from her previous position at the Deputy SBA Administrator under the President George W. Bush’s administration. It was great to see an old friend and update her on our policy priorities. We were happy to hear that women entrepreneurs are a priority of Administrator Carranza. 

Participating in GSA’s Small Business Roundtable with the Federal Acquisition Service

 

Candace Waterman, Ann Sullivan and WIPP Advocacy Team member Elizabeth Sullivan were invited to participate in a roundtable held on Wednesday, February 19 at GSA with the Administrator Emily Murphy to discuss small business participation in Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs) and new cybersecurity requirements. WIPP raised the issue of WOSB participation in GWACs and urged Administrator Murphy to consider including WOSBs in any new GWACs.  


WIPP Speaks on Behalf of Women Entrepreneurs at 2020 Small Business Forum Meeting

 

In January, WIPP attended the 2020 Small Business Forum Meeting to discuss the challenges of using the section § 199A deduction. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 included the new Internal Revenue Code § 199A to bring some parity for pass-through entities (S-Corps, LLCs, partnerships).

 

 WIPP advocated for the 20% deduction now afforded to pass-through entities during the 2017 tax reform and spoke at the roundtable, calling for the deduction to be extended to all pass-through entities, not just those in specific industries. 


Five-Year Lookback Not Yet Allowed in SAM

 

WIPP-advocated for the Small Business Extension Act, a change allowing WOSBs to utilize a five-year revenue average for the purposes of size determination, which went into effect in January 2020. However, this change has not yet been reflected in the System for Award Management (SAM). WOSBs have found that when renewing their size status in SAM.gov, the only option is to input a three-year average.

 

 We advise WOSBs seeking to re-certify size status under the new five-year rule to work with legal counsel to document their size until SAM is updated and asking for the ability to change to a five-year revenue average when SAM is updated. 

Tags:  Advocacy  GSA  legislation  regulatory  SBA  taxes 

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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

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