Wyoming Small Firms Are Given a Chance at Federal Contracts
First-time users of Wyoming’s governor-designated Historically Underutilized Business Zone option have expanded federal contracting options to four counties.
U.S. Small Business Administration program-eligible HUBZones include those in Big Horn, Converse, Sweetwater, and Sublette counties, which the governor asked to be recognized as such. The government is actively working to ensure that small enterprises in rural and urban areas have preferred access to federal contracts and are matched with the most appropriate federal agencies.
Contracting for products and services might include everything from purchasing paper clips and building materials to selling locally manufactured jewelry in national park gift stores.
“We want to help them meet that customer, understand how that customer wants to buy the goods and services and construction that they need, and become their vendor of choice,” said U.S. SBA District Director Amy Lea, who oversees Wyoming. “You want to have Wyoming small businesses get a larger share of the dollars that the federal government spends in Wyoming.”
She argued that the more money invested in locally owned and operated companies, the more likely people would be able to maintain their jobs, put food on the table, and build thriving communities for future generations.
Chief Executive Officer of the Wyoming Business Council Josh Dorrell was one of the federal, state, and private sector partners that assisted with the governor’s petition and advocated for the zones. He emphasized the importance of ensuring his family could raise a family in Wyoming.
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“This is a really big step in the right direction because it opens up opportunities that we didn’t have before,” he told the group gathered at the HUBZone event in the Laramie County Library on Tuesday. “And that’s for those Wyoming companies, but it’s also for the entities that get to utilize Wyoming workers because we know that Wyoming businesses and Wyoming workers are some of the best in the world.”
For FY2021, over $16 million in contracts were given to Wyoming’s 19 HUBZone-certified businesses. Nonetheless, this represents a negligible fraction of the total financing opportunity for Wyoming’s small firms.
HUBZone-certified small firms are eligible for set-aside and price preference awards from the federal government if they are based in a HUBZone and have at least 35% of their workforce.
While 3% may seem small, contracts between small firms and the federal government totaled $14.3 billion in 2021, according to U.S. SBA HUBZone Deputy Director Laura Maas and the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. She also mentioned that just 4,500 organizations comprise the whole contractual sector.“It’s an aggressive goal, but one that we are working hard with agencies to meet,” she said.
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