This week marks National Small Business Week – an opportunity to recognize the invaluable role entrepreneurs and small businesses play in America’s economy. It’s also a time to make sure our small businesses and entrepreneurs know about the services the Commerce Department – and entire federal government – has to offer.
U.S. small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and the Commerce Department is committed to supporting them.
Last year, Department-wide contracts with small businesses reached $3 billion, or approximately 40 percent of all contracts. And just a few weeks ago, Commerce awarded a contract to five small U.S. businesses: FCN, Force 3, Intelligent Decisions, Iron Bow, and Red River.
The new contract, which is for network equipment and maintenance, is expected to save up to $25 million in taxpayer dollars over the next five years. It also streamlines the procurement process, reduces the time needed to award hundreds of separate contracts to do the same tasks, and creates partners in companies that are capable of offering discounts and exceptional service.
In addition to saving money, these contracts support small businesses and the Department’s efficiency, enabling Commerce to focus more resources on our primary mission to support American businesses, help create jobs and strengthen the economy.
The Commerce Department is working to increase the number of small to medium-sized businesses that export by making it easier for them to access federal export assistance. That includes expanding access to small business trade financing and ensuring the most efficient delivery of services to small businesses.
For example, the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, part of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, reported that 83 percent of the approximately 14,200 export successes they assisted with in fiscal year 2012 were achieved by small and medium-sized enterprises. Further, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker this week announced efforts to expand export opportunities for all American companies, including small businesses. This will help them businesses grow faster and help spread American ideas, innovation and value.
Commerce’s 11 other agencies also have a number of services available to small businesses. Just to name a few, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) helps minority-owned businesses gain access to contracts and capital. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office helps entrepreneurs get their products to market more quickly. And the Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis produce statistics that help businesses make important decisions, like where to invest or build a new location.
To learn more about federal resources available to help small businesses, visit: http://www.sba.gov or http://business.usa.gov. Also check out www.sba.gov/nsbw and shop at a local small business today!