Since 2015, more than $4.5 billion has been spent with Pennsylvania’s small, diverse, and veteran businesses through state contracts. For two years in a row, Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration has set records for contract spending with these businesses, including $995 million in Fiscal Year 2021.
Wolf said in a statement that his administration has made supporting these businesses a top priority.
“From the outset, we wanted to make the state contracting process more inclusive, equitable and fair for small businesses,” said Wolf. “Over the last seven years, we’ve put our money where our mouth is with multiple record-setting spending years. This is about building an economy that works for everyone – including the small businesses that power our communities.”
The nearly $1 billion spent in Fiscal Year 2021 shattered the previous mark of $856 million set the year before and generated 10,000 new jobs. This FY spend with all small businesses represents an increase of 169% from 2015, when Wolf signed an executive order directing a coordinated and consistent effort to ensure diversity and inclusion in all contracting opportunities for small and diverse businesses throughout agencies under the governor’s jurisdiction.
The executive order also established the Bureau of Diversity, Inclusion and Small Business Opportunities (BDISBO) to directly affect change for small businesses, veteran-owned businesses, and small diverse businesses – businesses owned by minorities, women, service-disabled veterans, individuals with disabilities and members of the LGBT community.
“There is much to be proud of when it comes to our accomplishments in serving the small, small diverse and veteran business communities,” said Department of General Services (DGS) Acting Secretary Joe Lee. “The policies and programs we have been able to implement have laid a more than solid foundation that can be built upon for continued success in the years ahead.”
The implementation of three policy/program changes in Fiscal Year 2020 was cited by Lee as a key point in the progress of BDISBO’s efforts. The changes are represented by the following:
- Small Business Reserve (SBR) that enabled small businesses to compete as prime contractors on specific procurements;
- implementation of goal setting for SDBs/VBEs to set minimum participation levels on goods, services and construction procurements;
- creation of the stand-alone Veteran Business Enterprise program that set participation goals specifically for these businesses.
Kerry Kirkland, department of general services deputy secretary for diversity inclusion and small business opportunities, said a trend has been set in innovation and creativeness.
“We have been able to commission the commonwealth’s first-ever Statewide Disparities Study; convene the first-ever DISBO Governor’s Advisory Council; and implement several other groundbreaking policies and programs to benefit small, small diverse and veteran businesses,” said Kirkland. “The future is truly bright for these business communities moving forward.”
Program goals include conducting the follow-up to the disparity study; developing a capital and technical assistance program for small, small diverse and veteran-owned businesses; and continuing the promotion of legislation to statutorily establish BDISBO programs and policies.