For the first time in 20 years of trying, federal agencies met their mandatory goal of steering small business contracts to women-owned firms, the Small Business Administration announced on Wednesday.
“What we were able to achieve was because of that big lift across the country,” Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet told a gathering of contractors and agency officials at the National Press Club. “Women entrepreneurs can be the linchpin for a broader middle class, for upward mobility and social mobility.”
In fiscal 2015, federal agencies awarded 5.05 percent of eligible small business contracting dollars – or $17.8 billion – to women-owned firms, SBA said. Leading the way, Contreras-Sweet said, was the Commerce Department, where, under Secretary Penny Pritzker, women-owned firms won 13.4 percent of contracts, worth $557 million. “This achievement is no longer our glass ceiling,” but the new bar, Contreras-Sweet said.
Federal agencies also for the third year in a row met the broader governmentwide goal of awarding 23 percent of contracting dollars to small firms. Agencies in fiscal 2015 awarded 25.75 percent of contracts to small companies, SBA announced, or $90.7 billion. This supported 500,000 jobs, according to Contreras-Sweet.
SBA also broke the record for contracting with service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, which doubled from 5 percent to 10 percent, and is now 4 percent of contract spending, said Contreras-Sweet, who presented certificates to four female federal contractors.
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