BY JOE MARVILLI
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) stopped by Queens this week, urging Congress to pass her bill that would support women-owned businesses.
Gillibrand visited Data Conversion Laboratory in Fresh Meadows to promote and push for the passage of her Women’s Small Business Procurement Parity Act. This bill would expand opportunities for women-owned small businesses seeking federal contracts.
According to Gillibrand, Congress set a goal more than two decades ago to award five percent of federal contracts to women-owned small businesses. The goal has never been reached. Last year, women-owned small businesses nationwide only received 4.3 percent of the contracts awarded. In New York City, the rate was even lower. According to data from Women Impacting Public Policy, only 1.48 percent of federal contract dollars went to women-owned small businesses.
“Women-owned businesses are systemically short-changed when it comes to competing for government contracts,” Gillibrand said. “If women-owned businesses received five percent of federal contracts, women entrepreneurs in our City would have received approximately $56 million more in federal contracts alone last year. The truth is, all too often, women contractors start off on an unequal playing field.”
The Senator’s bill would provide women-owned businesses access to sole-source contracts, making hundreds more eligible for contracts where federal agencies need urgent action and consider just one company for a job. At the moment, the only exceptions to sole-source authority are women-owned small businesses.
The Women’s Small Business Procurement Parity Act is part of a larger comprehensive measure called the Women’s Small Business Ownership Act of 2014. This legislation aims to expand Small Business Administration micro-loan and intermediary lending programs to reach more female borrowers and increase counseling and training for women entrepreneurs.
“These arbitrary restrictions put women businesses at a serious disadvantage. Women entrepreneurs deserve a fair shot at growing their businesses and creating jobs,” Gillibrand said.
According to Gillibrand, women-owned businesses are the fastest growing in today’s economy. Nationwide, women own 8.6 million small businesses. These businesses have created 23 million jobs and left an economic impact of $3 trillion. In New York City, women own 670,000 businesses, more than a 30 percent increase since 1997.
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) joined Gillibrand in support of her bill, stating that the lack of support for women-owned businesses has to change.
“These statistics are very disappointing. They are unacceptable and must change to ensure the continued and future success of women-owned companies,” Meng said. “It’s time to knock down the barriers that for too long have blocked female entrepreneurs from doing business with the federal government.”
Data Conversion Laboratory is one of the few women-owned businesses in the City that does receive federal contracts, though its chief operating officer, Amy Williams, said that it is still a struggle for the company.
“We work on many defense and federal agency contracts, but due to competition, we’re rarely in a position to win a contract as the prime contractor,” she said. “The Women’s Small Business Procurement Parity Act would essentially level the playing field and offer DCL and other women-owned small businesses like us the opportunity to significantly increase our federally-contracting competitiveness.”
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @JoeMarvilli.