Just a little more than a year ago, on March 2, 2011, I was with hundreds of women business owners gathered in Washington, DC, to celebrate a milestone that was more than a decade in the making: the implementation of the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract Program on February 4, 2011. The victory came after nearly 10-plus years of legal wrangling and advocacy by the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), other women’s business organizations, and additional supporters.
Since the program’s implementation, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) has introduced legislation aimed at raising the bar and bringing government contracting parity for women business owners.
Specifically, Senator Snowe’s legislation, S. 2172 the Fairness in Women-Owned Small Business Contracting Act, will:
- Eliminate the $5 million cap on women contracting programs.
- Allow for sole sourcing to women-owned businesses under similar conditions as sole source contracts awarded historically to underutilized businesses zone (HUBZone) small businesses.
- Require a mandatory five-year review of all industries in which women are underrepresented to determine whether more industries should be included.
Diane Tomb, the president and CEO of NAWBO, has sent Sen. Snowe a letter offering NAWBO’s support of this important legislation.
As Diane notes, Sen. Snowe has been a long time champion of the women’s contracting program and worked hand in hand with NAWBO and other women’s organizations to put this program in place. She just announced her retirement at the end of 2012, and since she is critical to the success of this legislation, there is a short window to get the legislation enacted.
The House also has plans to introduce similar legislation. We need as many emails and phone calls into Senate offices, asking for co-sponsorship.
Please contact your senators and ask them to support and co-sponsor S. 2172, the Fairness in Women-Owned Small Business Contracting Act. Join NAWBO in making the voice of women-owned business, the fast-growing segment of the US economy, heard.