Small Business Contracts with State to Increase Thanks to SBAC Efforts

November 22,2011
Amy Masters

State Representative La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago) recently convened the Illinois House Small Business Committee to address the implementation of HB 3185. As a result of strong advocacy efforts by the Small Business Advocacy Council (SBAC), HB 3185 was signed into law this past session requiring 10% of all state procurement contracts to be issued to small businesses.

SBAC lobbyist Dan Johnson, who requested the hearing, noted that convening a hearing on legislation after it becomes law is rather unusual, but was necessary to ensure that obstacles and challenges are identified and addressed.

“Not only has Representative Ford been instrumental in getting this initiative passed, but he is also committed to working with state agencies to ensure it is implemented successfully,” Johnson said. “As a small business owner, Representative Ford has proven over and over again he is a true advocate of our cause.”

Representative Ford requested all state procurement officers attend the hearing to share current data on small business contracts and chart a plan to meet or exceed the 10% requirement. It was noted at the hearing that small businesses only attain 2% of state procurement contracts. And while small businesses number over one million statewide, about 6,000 small businesses are registered with the state, and only 2,100 small businesses are active vendors. Major challenges for small businesses in obtaining state contracts include lack of capital and resources to complete work, as well as lack of education in navigating a complicated and cumbersome registration and bid process.

Many positive suggestions arose out of the hearing to streamline the process and encourage more small businesses to participate, including:

* Simplify registration by automatically certifying a company as a state vendor once certified as a federal government vendor
* Apply recently updated federal government definition of small business to state, and eliminate conflicting classifications
* Require submission of certification documents only once when registering instead of requiring previously submitted documents with every bid.
* Assign only one state agency to oversee certification process instead of multiple agencies

At Representative Ford’s request, Dan Johnson will draft many of these suggestions into legislation to be introduced in the next session. Tune in to the SBAC blog to learn more once the legislation is introduced!

For more resources or to register with the state to become a certified vendor, check out Central Management Services (CMS) web site.

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