Policy Position on WBC Reauthorization

by / Tuesday, 16 December 2014 / Published in Uncategorized

Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) serve more than 130,000 entrepreneurs each year, providing training and one-on-one counseling at centers across the country.  To serve the growing demand for services, the WBC program has expanded from only four centers 25 years ago to today’s total of 106.

Increase Funding and Grant Formula for Women’s Business Centers

Over the last 15 years, government support for the WBC program has remained virtually unchanged, stretching resources to capacity.  During that same time period, the number of entrepreneurs served has increased by 119%.  Additionally, the maximum SBA grant award to a WBC is $150,000 for an initial five-year grant award, while existing centers receive approximately $120,000 regardless of size or number of entrepreneurs served.

  • Government funding for the WBC program should be increased to $25 million annually, to allow existing centers to expand services, while enabling the SBA to open new centers in areas of the country that are underserved.
  • If funding is increased, the maximum grant award should be increased to $250,000 to allow WBCs to effectively serve entrepreneurs.  Awards need not always be $250,000, but the SBA should have the authority to award grants in that amount.

  Modernize the Women’s Business Center Program

The growth and impact of women-owned business in the United States over the last 40 years is impressive and WBCs have been there to help.  As the needs of entrepreneurs and the demands of the economy have evolved, the Women’s Business Center program needs to be updated.

  • Congress should direct the SBA to convene a stakeholder group of WBCs and counseling practitioners to make recommendations to Congress

  Assist Women-Owned Businesses Secure Federal Government Contracts

Implemented in 2011, the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Procurement Program was created to assist the federal government in meeting and exceeding its 5% goal for contracting with women-owned businesses. The program, while growing, is currently at a disadvantage to all other programs because Contracting Officers do not have the authority to award sole-source contracts. Moreover, the data that determines what industries are open to the program is outdated.

  • The Congress should enact legislation to allow sole-source authority, ensuring parity among all small business programs and strengthening the women’s contracting community.

Currently, the next study to determine which industries can participate in the WOSB program will not be completed until 2018. The previous data was collected in 2007. We request the Congress direct the SBA to complete the study in the next two years, thereby aligning the program with the industries in which it is needed most.