CHICAGO – More Illinois small businesses received state contracts in 2005 thanks to the recent expansion of the state’s Small Business Set Aside Program, Governor Rod Blagojevich announced today. A record $16 million in set-aside contracts were awarded to Illinois small businesses last year, a full 165% increase over the 2004 total.
“Entrepreneurs are the backbone of our economy. But for too long, small businesses lost out on the opportunity to provide services and goods to the state because their size and lack of resources in comparison to bigger companies left them unable to compete. We’ve worked to turn that around, and now, more entrepreneurs in Illinois than ever before are not only competing for state business but winning state contracts,” Governor Blagojevich said.
The expansion of the Small Business Set Aside Program was an important Blagojevich Administration legislative initiative in 2004. The Governor signed into law Public Act 93-0769, legislation sponsored by State Senator James DeLeo and State Representative David Miller, which increased the number of small businesses with access to state contracts under the program effective January 1, 2005.
Last year the Administration expanded the number of contracts set aside for small firms, the number of contracts awarded to small businesses and the number of small firms eligible to compete in the Small Business Set Aside (SBSA) program. Further, a statewide educational outreach effort including dozens of workshops for small and diverse businesses led to a significant jump in SBSA-registered firms: the number of small businesses registered in the program increased by 57%, to nearly 3,100, in 2005.
In addition, nearly half of the contracts awarded under the SBSA program are won by diverse firms – those certified by the State’s Business Enterprise Program (BEP) as being owned by minorities, women, or persons with disabilities. Taken together, these statistics are evidence that the State’s programs are expanding opportunities for entrepreneurs.
The BEP and SBSA programs are managed by the Department of Central Management Services, which serves as the chief procurement agency for the State.
“Small businesses in Illinois deserve the chance to compete for State contracts. Gov. Blagojevich understands that expanding these programs gives local firms a chance to grow their customer base, grow their revenues and grow their business,” said State Senator James DeLeo (D-Chicago).
Throughout the past year, CMS led many efforts that ultimately helped achieve this success. In addition to hosting dozens of small business workshops throughout Illinois, the agency also heightened efforts to enroll entrepreneurs in the programs, reserved more contracts as set asides for small firms and encouraged state agencies to engage more small and diverse businesses when procuring state contracts.
“Recent efforts to expand the Small Business Set Aside Program are bearing fruit for Illinois small and diverse businesses, and that’s exciting because this program and its growth has such an important impact on women and minority owned businesses. Today, entrepreneurs undoubtedly have better access to state contracting opportunities than ever before,” said Hedy Ratner, Co-President of the Women's Business Development Center.
“Because of Governor Rod Blagojevich’s leadership, today more people have access to state contracts. Governor Blagojevich understands that by allowing all Illinois residents access to opportunities, we create a stronger economy and a stronger Illinois,” said Juan Ochoa, President of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Among the small businesses that were awarded contracts through the Small Business Set Aside Program in 2005 include Chicago-based Seville Staffing that was awarded the contract for the state’s temporary staffing needs within Cook County, and Springfield-based Laser Innovations, Inc. that provides recycled printer toner cartridges to agencies statewide.
"Because of the Small Business Set-Aside Program I was able to expand my business well beyond my expectations. Small business owners in Illinois should take advantage of this great program as they look to expand their business," said Alisa Winston, President of Seville Staffing.
"Governor Blagojevich's efforts to expand the Small Business Set-Aside Program has improved our company's bottom line. In fact, winning a recent contract with the State has allowed us to retain an employee that otherwise we would have had to let go,” said Charlotte Watkins, General Manager of Laser Innovations, Inc.
In another move to increase access for diverse firms, last year CMS began requiring that businesses bidding on select large contracts subcontract with diverse firms; the agency has developed contracts that will result in more than $5 million of State business being awarded to diverse firms.
“Illinois relies upon small businesses to create jobs and drive our economy, so it’s only fair that they be brought to the table when State contracts come up for bid,” said CMS Acting Director Paul Campbell. “Gov. Blagojevich believes that more firms competing for state business is better for both Illinois taxpayers and Illinois businesses.”
Eligible businesses are encouraged to enroll in the Small Business Set Aside and Business Enterprise Programs by contacting 1-866-ILL-BUYS or visiting www.purchase.state.il.us.
Besides registering for these special programs, business owners are encouraged to register their product or service specialties on the Illinois Procurement Bulletin. Once enrolled, they automatically receive email notification when the State of Illinois is requesting bids or proposals in their product or service category.
As a result of Public Act 93-0769, wholesale and construction businesses making $10 million or less are eligible for the Small Business Set Aside program, up from $7.5 million; retail/service businesses making $6 million or less are eligible to participate in this program, up from just $1.5 million in annual revenues.