Cantwell, Shaheen, Gillibrand Applaud Move by Small Business Administration to Support Women-Owned Small Businesses

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) today applauded the announcement by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) that they have finalized a rule to increase opportunities for women-owned small businesses (WOSB) to win federal contracts.

“This is an important step towards closing the gender gap for access to federal contracts, and it encourages more women entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and create jobs. Women-owned businesses deserve a fair shot at the billions of dollars in federal contracts they have been missing out on every year,” said Cantwell.

“I applaud the SBA for taking action today to encourage more small business ownership by women across the country. This is a major victory for women-owned small businesses, who will now have a more level playing field for federal contracts,” said Shaheen. “By opening up new opportunities for women-owned small businesses to win federal contracts, we will encourage greater small business ownership by women, which is good for our economy and job creation.”

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and among the most powerful job creators we have,” said Gillibrand. “This new action from the Small Business Administration will expand business opportunities for our women entrepreneurs to grow and start new businesses. When women-owned businesses are offered a fair shot to compete, they can thrive, creating jobs and strengthening our economy."

The rule follows the inclusion last year of one of the Senators’ Women’s Small Business Procurement Parity Act as part of must-pass defense legislation that was signed into law. The provisions are aimed at increasing the share of federal contracts that are awarded to women-owned small businesses by removing a restriction on using sole-source authority for WSOBs. This would give the WOSB procurement program parity with other small business federal contracting programs. Two decades ago, lawmakers set a modest goal of awarding at least 5% of small business contracts to women-owned small businesses. Although 30% of small businesses are owned by women, as of FY2013 the share of WOSB receiving federal contracts was only 0.19%.

As a member of the Entrepreneurship and Small Business Committee, Senator Cantwell has long supported women-owned small businesses and women in the workforce: