SPRINGFIELD – Small Illinois companies won a record amount of state business during the last fiscal year, thanks to the expansion of the state’s Small Business Set Aside Program and an aggressive outreach effort, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced today. A record $39 million in set-aside contracts were awarded to small Illinois firms in the fiscal year ended June 30. Additionally, nearly 1,500 new Illinois small businesses are now engaged in the state procurement process, which is fostering greater competition and expanding opportunities for these firms.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, creating jobs and providing services in communities all over our state. But for too long, complicated procurement rules and bureaucracy essentially excluded small businesses from opportunities to win business with the state. That’s why we established the Small Business Set Aside program, to ensure that small businesses that are good at what they do can have a chance to compete for contracts to provide goods and services to state agencies. By fostering small business growth, we are expanding opportunities for entrepreneurs and creating jobs for Illinois workers,” Gov. Blagojevich said.
As a result of legislation passed in 2004 and concentrated efforts to grow the Small Business Set Aside program, the Blagojevich Administration has:
- Expanded the number of contracts set aside and awarded to small firms to $39 million, a full 176% increase over fiscal year 2005 total of $14 million. Before the program was expanded, the state historically awarded approximately $6 million in set aside contracts each year.
- Increased the number of small Illinois firms registered in the program by 80%, from 1,925 on January 1, 2005 to 3,455 on June 30, 2006, through statewide business outreach.
“More and more small Illinois companies are now competing for state business. Gov. Blagojevich understands that expanding these programs gives entrepreneurs throughout the state a chance to increase their revenues and expand their business,” said State Senator James DeLeo (D-Chicago).
“The Small Business Set Aside Program is important because Illinois government can give preference to Illinois businesses. As a result, we keep more money in our state, which helps keep our economy moving forward and local companies create jobs for local workers,” said State Representative David Miller (D-Dolton).
The Department of Central Management Services (CMS) has led many efforts to engage more small and diverse firms. During the first two years of the Administration, the agency reorganized and streamlined the state’s procurement operations, which the National Association of State Procurement Officials recognized with its highest honor, a Gold Cronin Award, in 2004. Through this past year, CMS held 69 workshops with hundreds of small and diverse business owners, and launched www.sell2.illinois.gov
and a call center at 1-866-ILL-BUYS
, to help vendors navigate through the procurement process.
“Illinois counts on small businesses to create jobs and drive our economy, and we also count on them to provide many of the goods and services that the state needs to operate,” said CMS Director Paul Campbell. “Acting on Gov. Blagojevich’s directive, we’ve shown that more firms competing for state business is better for Illinois taxpayers and Illinois companies.”
Eligible businesses are encouraged to enroll in the Small Business Set Aside Program and Business Enterprise Program (for firms owned by women, minorities and persons with disabilities) by visiting www.sell2.illinois.gov
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 is requesting bids or proposals in their product or service category.
“The state’s Small Business Set Aside Program has played an instrumental role in helping many women and minority owned businesses through new business opportunities with the state, which helps them to expand their operations and increase their revenues, and I commend the Blagojevich Administration for making this a priority,” said Hedy Ratner, Co-President of the Women’s Business Development Center.
“Thanks to Gov. Blagojevich’s leadership, more businesses now have the opportunity to win state contracts. By giving access to opportunities to all Illinois residents, we create a stronger economy and a stronger Illinois,” said Juan Ochoa, President of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
In addition to the $39 million that small firms won through the Small Business Set Aside program where they compete only against other small firms, they also won a significant amount of business when competing outside the program – an estimated $98 million last fiscal year.
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.