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A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
By Alyssa Lozier, Wyoming Entrepreneur Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) procurement specialist
“I’m interested in applying for the 8(a) business development program. A local agency I work with regularly recommended I check into the program. I’m not sure where to begin or what the program entails. Can you provide me with more information?” Terry, Jackson
The 8(a) program is a set-aside program created by the Small Business Administration (SBA) for small, disadvantaged businesses. It offers a wide variety of assistance to firms that are at least 51 percent owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
The main idea behind this program is to help entrepreneurs gain access to the economic mainstream through government contracting -- specifically, helping the business prepare to receive awards.
Businesses that are in the 8(a) program can receive sole-source contracts up to a threshold of $4 million for goods and services and $6.5 million for manufacturing. Firms also have the opportunity to partner with other 8(a) businesses to form joint ventures allowing them to bid on large prime contracts for which they may have not been able to compete alone.
To apply for the program, a business owner should first make sure the firm is, as mentioned, 51 percent owned and controlled by a socially and economically disadvantaged individual. You also must be sure that it meets the remaining requirements found here: https://www.sba.gov/content/8a-requirements-overview.
It’s always helpful and recommended that you work with your local PTAC or SBA representative to ensure a complete and accurate application which consists of completing the 8(a) Business Development program application form online or by hard copy; completing any additional SBA forms either online or by hard copy; or mailing the supporting documentation to the SBA.
Copies of documents with original signatures must be mailed to the SBA.
Remember to double check your work before submission. Within 15 days of submitting the paperwork, SBA will notify you if the application received is complete or not.
Once a business has been accepted and certified, the owner is in the program for nine years. But, the overall objective behind the 8(a) program is to graduate firms to go on to successfully compete in the business industry. To ensure each firm meets the SBA goals before graduation, the SBA district office representatives will monitor the business through annual reviews, business planning and systematic evaluations.
Be patient when applying for the program. It’s going to take time and may be frustrating. The key is to remember the benefits you will gain from the program and the end goal: graduating in nine years as a successful business owner.
Stay tuned for my next business tip -- I take a more detailed look at the 8(a) application process.
A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments are available at http://wyen.biz/blog1/.
The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email email@example.com or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.