July 28, 2021
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Below is a statement of Elayne Brunson, COO and Co-founder of the Sumter Black Chamber of Commerce, regarding this week’s announcement of Senator Lindsey Graham requesting $230 million in federal money for military base construction in South Carolina.
I want to thank Senator Graham for his request of federal dollars for important construction projects at South Carolina’s military bases. Not only will these funds address critical needs at our in-state military bases, they also offer an opportunity for our small businesses to receive federal contracts to provide the needed services. However, the overall small business contracting goals for all federal contracting, 23%, should be required to be the minimum level of contract dollars for small business with this $230 million in special military construction funding. In addition, the subgroups of small businesses targeted for federal contracts—such as small businesses owned by women, disabled veterans, and minorities—should also have the federal contracting goals met and preferably exceeded.
The Sumter Black Chamber of Commerce is a supporter of a national business campaign calling for increasing federal contracting goals for small businesses in order to help address the nation’s 40-year low in new business startups. The “Reform the SBA: BIGGER Mission, Authority and Resources” campaign believes that as the largest purchaser of goods and services in our country, the federal government should better use its buying power to drive the creation and profitability of U.S. small businesses.
In addition, the federal government should address specific problems that prevent many small businesses from knowing about federal contracting opportunities and then qualifying for those contracts. As an example of the latter, bonding requirement for federal contracts often prohibits undercapitalized small businesses from being able to obtain the necessary bonds. A federal insurance program that would allow bonding costs to be paid from a federal contract would open more opportunities for our small businesses.