Federal government sets record on small business contract investment

The federal government is trying to make it easier for small businesses to obtain government contracts. 

Small Business Administrator Isabella Guzman announced Tuesday that the Biden-Harris administration exceeded its small business contracting goal for Fiscal 2022. 

The SBA released its annual Procurement Scorecard, which serves as an assessment tool to gauge the effectiveness of federal agencies in meeting their small business and socio-economic prime contracting and subcontracting goals. 

The goal was to have 23% of contracts going to small businesses, but this year the administration hit a record of 26.5% of contract dollars going to small businesses. 

That’s an increase of $8.7 billion over the prior year, bringing the total amount of federal money invested in small business contracts to $162.9 billion. 

A total of 10 federal agencies earned an A+ score for their achievements in small business contracting. 

The federal government as a whole earned an A on this year’s government-wide scorecard. 

“The SBA’s Mid-Atlantic Region has the largest concentration of federal contractors in the nation, so it is vital we are geared to help small businesses find their place in delivering what government agencies need to function and serve the American people,” said SBA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator John Fleming who oversees the federal agency’s operations in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and D.C.  “Our small business advocates across the federal government and our SBA partner organizations were key in reaching these results.” 

Other highlights in the report include spending on Small Disadvantaged Businesses exceeded its 11% goal for the second year in a row. 

Service-disabled Veteran-owned small business spending exceeded its 3% goal, reaching 4.6%. This achievement translates to $28.1 billion in procurement, reflecting a $3 billion spending increase compared to the previous year.   

Guzman said the SBA has made small business contracting a top priority and has made several strategic and targeted changes to ensure small businesses, particularly those in underserved communities, are empowered to find and take advantage of opportunities.  

PA ranks No. 11 for success in minority-owned businesses, study says

Pennsylvania ranks as the 11th best state in the U.S. for the success of minority-owned businesses, according to a new study. 

Lendio, a small business finance solutions provider, recently released a study titled “The Best & Worst States for Minority Entrepreneurs.” The study used the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Small Business Administration (SBA), and Economic Policy Institute from the business, lending, and economic sectors in each of the 50 states and D.C. 

The data revealed that in Pennsylvania, 10.6% of businesses and 18% of startups under two years old are minority owned. From 2019-21, the number of jobs at these companies grew by 44%. 

The study also showed that there are now a record 1.2 million minority-owned businesses in the U.S. Businesses owned by minorities have received a boost from the SBA’s Community Advantage loans awarded to underserved communities. 

The percentage of SBA loans awarded to businesses owned by minorities has risen from 34% in 2017 to 45% in 2022. Businesses own by Native Americans grew by 68%, Pacific Islanders 28.8%, Latinos 16.5%, Blacks 13.6%, and Asians 10.2%. 

The 10 best states for minority entrepreneurs are Hawaii, Maryland, Maine, Delaware, New Jersey, Florida, California, Virginia, Texas, and Idaho.

PA receives record funding from Biden Administration for internet expansion

Pennsylvania is receiving more than $1.16 billion from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to expand high-speed internet access across the state.

The $1,161,778,272 total represents the single largest federal investment in broadband internet infrastructure in Pennsylvania history.

U.S. Democratic Senators Bob Casey and John Fetterman announced the funding Monday as part of President Joe Biden’s “Internet for All” initiative. Under the Biden Administration, Pennsylvania’s total of federal funding under for high-speed internet is $1,776,854,539.

Casey sad high-speed internet is a necessity, and without it, Pennsylvanians are at a disadvantage.

“Our rural communities are particularly impacted by a lack of reliable, high-speed internet access,” Casey said in a statement. “This record-setting investment from the infrastructure law will help ensure Pennsylvania students have every opportunity to learn, families to stay connected, and small businesses to stay competitive in an increasingly digital world.”

Fetterman agreed, adding that reliable broadband internet access is almost as fundamental as electricity or running water.

“We can’t let our rural and other underserved communities get left behind due to lack of broadband access,” Fetterman said. “This funding is a big deal and will help deliver more broadband for all people, in rural and urban areas, so that everyone has equitable access to stable high-speed internet at home.”

The funding is provided by the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program, which is part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and allocates funding directly to the states. Funding will go to the Pennsylvania Broadband Authority.

Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo referred to the record-setting funding as an “historic investment” to connect Pennsylvania families.

“For too long, lack of high-speed internet access has been a barrier to success for so many Pennsylvanians,” Raimondo said. “Affordable, quality, internet is no longer a luxury and residents across Pennsylvania need it to access telehealth, school, and career opportunities.”

Agriculture, forestry industry receives highest amount in business loans, study says

A new study reveals that the agriculture and forestry industry receive the highest amount in approved business loans, per employee and establishment.

Mining, quarrying, and oil/gas extraction rank second, while accommodation and food services place third according to the study conducted by Capital on Tap. A business credit card company, Capital on Tap studied the latest census data from January to December 2021 to find the industries receiving the highest amount of business loans.

Hugh Acland, director of Capital of Tap, highlighted the importance of financial support for businesses and in particular, small businesses.

“Many smaller businesses rely on different forms of financial aid: It’s not unusual for companies to draw on a mixture of small business loans, corporate credit cards, and grants in order to get their company off the ground, meet cash flow needs, or expand their operations,” Acland said in a release.

The agriculture and forestry industry heads the list with an average of $419,287 in approved loans per establishment. Together with an average of $64,520 per employee, agriculture and forestry are the primary beneficiary of small business loans, enabling them to significantly boost to the job market.

The mining, quarrying, and oil/gas extraction industry follows with $96,212 in approved loans per establishment and a total of $2,208,058,831.

The accommodation and food services industry ranks third, receiving an average approved loan amount of $51,242 per establishment for a total of $38,200,648,886. Finishing fourth is the education sector, which is averaging $42,840 per establishment, with a total of $4,741,996,532.

Completing the top five is the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry, with $42,580 in approved loans per establishment and an average of $4,207 per employee.

“Depending on the industry, the degree of financing required can vary considerably. The agricultural sector, for instance, needs significant upfront investments in land, equipment, machinery, and technology,” Acland said.

“In contrast, financial and insurance companies that drew on business loans required the lowest level of financing, as they are typically service-based consultancies with low capital requirements.”

Independent sellers in Pa. sold more than 81 million products last year on Amazon

Amazon has released its Small Business Empowerment Report, detailing how independent sellers in Amazon’s U.S. store sold more than 4.1 billion products in 2022 – an average of 7,800 each minute.

More than 60% of sales in Amazon’s store are from independent sellers, most of which are small and medium-sized businesses. Those sellers averaged more than $230,000 in Amazon sales last year and exported 260 million-plus items.

Pennsylvania is home to over 14,000 independent sellers selling in Amazon’s store, according to an Amazon spokesman. They sold more than 81 million products in 2022 through Amazon, with average annual sales of $170,000.

The most-shopped categories from U.S. independent sellers in Amazon’s store, a release said, are health and personal care, home, beauty, grocery and apparel.

Selling in Amazon’s store has also enabled independent sellers to create an estimated 1.5 million jobs in the U.S.

“Small businesses are the heart of our local communities and the backbone of the U.S. economy,” said Dharmesh Mehta, vice president of Worldwide Selling Partner Services at Amazon. “Amazon invests billions of dollars annually to provide entrepreneurs with a constantly improving set of valuable tools and resources to help them gain access to capital, quickly launch in our store, build their brands, and rapidly scale and reach more customers. Amazon is committed to the success of small businesses, and we are excited to continue innovating on their behalf and help them grow into thriving success stories.”

According to the report, brand owners in the U.S. grew sales over 20% year over year in Amazon’s store.


Paula Wolf is a freelance writer