Gov. Wolf, legislators support proposed legislation to help small, diverse and veteran businesses

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HARRISBURG – On Monday, Governor Tom Wolf offered his support for proposed legislation that will establish policies and programs to provide opportunities for small, diverse veteran-owned businesses in state contracting.

The proposal stems from the governor’s 2015 Executive Order on Diversity, Inclusion and Small Business Opportunities in Commonwealth Procurement and in Pennsylvania’s Economy and the 2018 Statewide Disparity Study, which examined disparities in the commonwealth’s contracting system.

“We have been very successful in implementing policies and programs that give our small-, diverse- and veteran-owned businesses a fairer and more equitable chance to compete for – and obtain – contracting opportunities with state government,” Governor Wolf said. “We also know the important role that consistency plays in ensuring the continued success of any policy or program, which is why this effort to legislatively establish the programs and policies administered through the Department of General Services Bureau of Diversity Inclusion & Small Business Opportunities is so significant.”

SB900 establishes the goal-setting program setting a minimum level for small diverse business (SDB) participation and spending commitment levels for solicitations for construction, design professional services, supplies and services. 

In addition, the legislation calls for a disparity study to be completed every five years to maintain the constitutionality of the programs and keep aspirational targets up-to-date for the goal-setting program. The legislation further removes the 100-employee limit from the definition of “Small Business” allowing size and revenue limits to be set on an industry-by-industry basis.

Pennsylvania Department of General Services Secretary Curt Topper detailed the success the commonwealth has experienced and how this legislation will have a positive, lasting effect.

“Since 2015, we’ve seen the creation of the first-ever advisory council for diversity, inclusion and small business opportunities; the first-ever disparity study for state contracting; the highest-ever participation and spending percentages and now this groundbreaking legislation will establish certainty for the future of those efforts,” Topper noted. “Right now, we have more than 5,000 small, diverse and veteran businesses who will benefit from this legislation’s intent to keep programs and policies in place to provide a financial benefit for these business by making them a focus of our spending plans.”

Since 2015, the commonwealth has spent a total of nearly $2.72 billion with small, diverse and veteran-owned businesses. During that same time, the percentage the commonwealth spent on small, diverse and veteran businesses rose from 7.6 percent in 2015, to 17.9 percent in 2019.

Senate Democratic Appropriations Chairman Vincent Hughes said this legislation is important and specified the role it will play in solidifying a place for small, diverse and veteran businesses in state contracting.

“These updates will give the Department of General Services the tools they need to encourage and enhance the participation in contracting from minority-owned businesses, women-owned businesses, veteran-owned businesses and those businesses not dominant in their field,” said Senator Hughes. “With this proposal, the commonwealth can become a nationwide leader in contracting participation by small and diverse business.”

Senator Camera Bartolotta spoke from personal experience.

“As the proprietor of a small, woman-owned business, I know firsthand how important this legislation is in helping small and diverse businesses to not only compete for state contracts, but also to grow and contribute to our economy,” Senator Camera Bartolotta said. “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, and we have a responsibility to ensure that they are given the attention they deserve.”

For more information on the new policies and programs, click HERE.

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