Getting more funding to small underserved businesses with new federal reforms

SALISBURY, Md. – For years, we’re told small disadvantaged businesses haven’t been getting a fair amount of funding from the federal government, but with new reforms on the table, they hope to change that.

“I think the Biden-Harris administration has recognized that we’re shutting out all these small businesses whether it’s by design or by accident and that needs to be reversed,” Bill Chambers, CEO and President of Salisbury Chamber of Commerce, said.

The Biden-Harris Administration is pushing to level the playing field for under-served small business owners. Typically, the government awards roughly 10 percent of federal contracting dollars to these business.

“Things like printing, supplies, and materials, professional services, there a host, hundreds of services and items that the federal government buys,” Chambers said.

And, while women own roughly 20 percent of all small businesses less than 5 percent of those dollars go to women-owned small businesses.

“I’m an Asian woman and you have to run your business at the same time take care of your family it’s not easy, so I don’t want to say the pandemic as an excuse, but most of the time when you’re running a business as a woman its more difficult,” Sufang Lin, the owner of Manna Asian Cuisine and Kaiju Sushi & Ramen Bar, said.

And, while the federal funding is helpful, under-served small business owners feel more funding would make a world of difference.

“A lot of the machines have problems, it’s a big cost to repair or replace,” Lin said.

“Just locally just in the Mid-Atlantic about $40 billion of federal contracts dispensed every year, now the original law said 5 percent must be allocated to small and disadvantaged businesses, frankly it’s too low,” Lin said.

To try and make this happen, Biden-Harris Administration is asking agencies to increase their contracting goals.

“What the Biden- Harris administration has proposed is a goal of 15 percent of all federal contracts dispensed to small disadvantaged, minority-owned businesses by 2025,” Chamber said.

And for the first time, the Administration is releasing data of who is getting these federal contracting dollars; that’s an initiative one Salisbury business owners thinks is significant.

“I personally want to know money is going to the businesses who really need help,” Lin said.

While these initiatives were just put into place, it has yet to be seen if they’ll make a difference, but local business owners remain hopeful the community will rally around them.

“Just keep on supporting the businesses, we still are opening our doors and we had a lot of risks, but we have to open our doors to do our business to cover our bills and take care of our family,” Lin said.

Categories: Local News, Maryland