Prime Contracting Arena for Small Businesses
Maryland launched the Small Business Reserve (SBR) Program in 2004 to provide prime contracting opportunities for small businesses that are ready, willing and able to perform on state-funded contracts. In the last fiscal year, Maryland paid over $477 million to certified SBR firms. The program applies to 66 designated agencies and departments that are required to spend at least 15 percent of their total fiscal year procurement expenditures with certified SBR vendors.
Once a contract is designated to the SBR Program, only certified firms can win the award. This creates a unique environment where small businesses compete against other small businesses. The SBR Program is race- and gender-neutral, so all small businesses that meet the eligibility standards, inclusive of those firms owned by minorities, women and veterans, are strongly encouraged to participate. Increasing the number of SBR certified firms will result in more SBR designated opportunities.
Vendors must meet the eligibility standards and complete an online certification process. Once certified, SBR’s are required to renew annually. There is no cost to obtain certification or participate in the program.
Visit the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs online to learn more. goMDsmallbiz.maryland.gov
State’s Procurement Forecast is Powerful Business Intelligence Tool
Many businesses utilize forecasting tools to make decisions about the future. The challenge lies in finding the right data to build a reliable forecast, particularly for small businesses and solopreneurs. The State of Maryland is helping to bridge the gap with its Procurement Forecast.
The Procurement Forecast is a database of purchases $100,000 or greater that state agencies and departments anticipate making during the current fiscal year (July 1 – June 30). Users can build a customized search based on six different options: description, agency, procurement category, contract value, region, and projected advertisement date. After completing the search, users are strongly advised to export the results to a spreadsheet. With a simple click of the “Export to Excel” button, additional fields are revealed in the spreadsheet format. This includes the name and contact information of the procurement officer or buyer, making it a very powerful business intelligence tool. To view the Procurement Forecast, visit the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs website. goMDsmallbiz.maryland.gov
Small, Minority, and Women Businesses – A Priority for the Maryland Department of Labor
The mission of the Maryland Department of Labor’s Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning (DWDAL) is to ensure Maryland’s businesses have the skilled workforce they need to be competitive and Maryland’s job seekers have the skills they need to thrive. DWDAL is committed to supporting the success of the small, minority, and women-owned businesses that create jobs and spark the innovation that will carry our state’s economy forward.
DWDAL Business Services staff, located in American Job Centers throughout the state, work closely with these enterprises to help them recruit and retain talent, access training and specialized grant programs like EARN Maryland and Maryland Business Works to train and upskill employees, leverage state and federal tax and incentive programs, and track market trends with the latest, cutting-edge labor market information. To learn more about the wide range of services DWDAL has to offer, contact your American Job Center or visit labor.maryland.gov.
Neighborhood BusinessWorks Program
For nearly 25 years, the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development’s Neighborhood BusinessWorks program has helped new and expanding small businesses secure the critical capital to turn their dreams into brick and mortar reality. During Governor Larry Hogan’s administration, the program has provided more than $40 million in financing to businesses, including biotechnology companies, breweries, restaurants, educational facilities and retailers. Traditionally, Neighborhood BusinessWorks provides gap financing to support other conventional sources, and program funding often serves as a “seal of approval” that assists with additional financing. Recently, the program has expanded to facilitate activities like collaborative financing with banks and Community Development Financial Institutions, providing credit enhancement guarantees to reduce risk in order to secure additional funding, and other creative business financing solutions. To find out more about Neighborhood BusinessWorks and other resources that can help you start or expand your small business, visit dhcd.maryland.gov.
Vendor Training on eMMA
Maryland conducts the majority of its procurements through an online business tool called eMaryland Marketplace Advantage (eMMA). All vendors interested in doing business with the State of Maryland should register in eMMA. There is no cost to register, and vendors receive email notifications of solicitations that align to the business. eMMA is a growing platform that will evolve into a full procure-to-pay system. Vendors will need to grow along with it. Be sure your vendor profile is complete and accurate. If you’re not receiving solicitation notices, it’s likely you need to modify the codes in the Product and Service Offerings category. Log into the system often to stay informed of new features as they are added. Notices will appear when you need to take action that can impact your account. Utilize the FAQs and Quick Reference Guides. These tools will help you navigate the system more easily. You should also take advantage of the growing vendor training library. The Office of State Procurement is continually developing training and support resources to help vendors perform functions within eMMA such as completing the vendor registration process and submitting electronic bids. Bookmark this site and watch the library grow. procurement.maryland.gov
Veteran Entrepreneurs Wanted
Maryland provides contracting opportunities on state-funded procurements to veteran-owned businesses through the Veteran-Owned Small Business Enterprise (VSBE) Program. Designated agencies and departments are directed to spend at least 1% of their procurements with veteran-owned prime contractors or subcontractors. Only the work of a certified VSBE firm can be counted toward an established VSBE contract goal. Firms seeking to participate in the VSBE Program must meet the size standards adopted by the U.S. Small Business Administration, and be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more veterans. The certification process requires three steps: registration, verification, and certification. Oversight of the VSBE Program lies rests the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs. Visit the VSBE Program page online for more information on the certification process. goMDsmallbiz.maryland.gov
This article is featured in the 2020 edition of The Daily Record’s Expanding Opportunities Resource Guide for Small, Minority and Women Businesses. Published in conjunction with the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs, Expanding Opportunities explores diversity, entrepreneurship and innovation in Maryland’s small business community. Read more from Expanding Opportunities on this website or read the digital edition.