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Benefits of 8(a) Business Development Program for Supplier Diversity

 Diversity Classifications: 8(a) Certification Business Development Program

As President Biden’s Infrastructure Bill continues to work its way through the approval process, government procurement agents are also ramping up to find vendors and suppliers to fulfill the coming wave of spending. Right now, there is a potential $2 trillion coming available, so suppliers should be preparing to not only bid on projects but make sure they stand out among the many vendors who will be applying for the same government projects. 

Various government procurement departments may have supplier diversity programs, which set goals to support underrepresented groups by allocating a percentage of suppliers with diverse backgrounds that the department wants to hire. For a company to qualify for a diversity classification, the general rule is that 51 percent of the company is owned and operated by a member(s) of an underrepresented group. In order to qualify, vendors will need to become certified in their specific diversity classification, including for the 8(a) Business Development Program.  

What is the 8(a)Certification Business Development Program?
This program is offered through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and aids companies owned and controlled by socially or economically disadvantaged individuals. The government limits competition for specific contracts so that those with this certification have a better chance of securing government work. In addition to this reduced competition, other program benefits posted by the SBA include being assigned a Business Opportunity Specialist to help each owner with government contracts, the ability to form joint ventures with established government contractors through the SBA’s Mentor-Protégé Program, and receiving other guidance including business training, counseling, marketing assistance, and executive development.   

How do you qualify for the 8(a) Business Development Program?
This is a certification program, so all businesses must apply and qualify to claim the 8(a) status and receive program benefits. 8(a) certification checklists on the program webpage include: 

  • Be a small business 
  • Have not previously received 8(a) certification benefits 
  • Be at least 51 percent owned and controlled by U.S. citizens who are socially and economically disadvantaged
  • Have a personal net worth of no more than $750K, an adjusted gross income of $350K or less and $6 million or less in assets
  • Demonstrate good character and show the potential to be able to successfully complete awarded contracts

How to apply for the 8(a) certification
As previously mentioned, to participate in the program, take advantage of all benefits, and be able to list the certification on your upcoming bids, companies that think they qualify must apply and be approved through the program. In order to apply, business owners will need to create a SAM account and then apply through the SBA’s certification website. This process can take some time, so it’s best to start right away to make sure you can be approved before any Infrastructure funding starts being distributed. You can check out Certify Knowledge Base for tips and tricks, and once your certification is accepted it will last for up to nine years with successful annual reviews.   

Have you investigated if your business qualifies for the 8(a) Business Development Program? How will you make sure your certifications are in order before any Infrastructure Bill spend is approved?