Gov. Wolf and legislators applaud new bill to support small businesses

Pennsylvania Politics

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Governor Tom Wolf is hailing proposed legislation that will help small, diverse and veteran-owned businesses continue to receive support and opportunities they deserve in state contracting.

SB900 is being proposed a few years after Governor Wolf signed an Executive Order in 2015 to create the Bureau of Diversity, Inclusion and Small Business Opportunities (BDISBO). The new bureau conducted a study in 2018 revealing disparities in the contracting system and recommending initiatives to improve it.

“We have been very successful in implementing policies and programs that give our small-, diverse- and veteran-owned businesses a fairer and more equitable chance to compete for – and obtain – contracting opportunities with state government,” Gov. Wolf said. “We also know the important role that consistency plays in ensuring the continued success of any policy or program, which is why this effort to legislatively establish the programs and policies administered through the Department of General Services Bureau of Diversity Inclusion & Small Business Opportunities is so significant.”

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SB900 is setting out to achieve goals found by the study, which will be carried out by the Pa. Dept. of General Service and BDISBO. It’ll establish minimum SDB participation and spending commitment levels for solicitations for construction, as well as design services and supplies. The legislation will also ask for a disparity study every five years to maintain constitutionality and see if they’re meeting goals.

SB900 will also remove the 100-employee limit for the definition of “small business,” to allow size and revenue limits to be on the basis of industry-by-industry, more consistent with federal program eligibility requirements.

The state has spent $2,72 billion over the last six years helping small, diverse and veteran-owned businesses.

Legislators say this bill will help solidify a place for these businesses to have access to state contracting.

“With the introduction of the Diversity, Inclusion and Small Business Opportunity Legislation, we are taking the first steps to increasing the participation of small and diverse businesses in commonwealth contracts,” Senator Vincent Hughes said.  “These updates will give the Department of General Services the tools they need to encourage and enhance the participation in contracting from minority-owned businesses, women-owned businesses, veteran-owned businesses and those businesses not dominant in their field.  With this proposal, the commonwealth can become a nationwide leader in contracting participation by small and diverse business.”

State officials say this will benefit over 5,000 businesses and are hopeful this will be a financial benefit for the future.

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