Padilla, Aguilar, Gomez Announce Legislation to Help Minority- and Women-Owned Businesses Compete for Infrastructure Funding￼
Pair of bills would support the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal to invest $100 billion in small, disadvantaged businesses by 2025
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla and U.S. Representatives Pete Aguilar and Jimmy Gomez (all D-Calif.) announced a package of legislation to help minority- and women-owned businesses compete for contracts to develop and build federal infrastructure projects as billions of dollars in funding is distributed through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
In the House, the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Supportive Services Expansion Act is led by Rep. Aguilar and the Accelerating Small Business Growth Act is led by Rep. Gomez. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) is also co-sponsoring both bills. Together, these bills would help agencies accomplish President Biden’s ambitious new goal of increasing the share of federal contracts going to small, disadvantaged businesses by 50 percent by 2025, which would translate to an additional $100 billion for these businesses.
“The unprecedented investment in American infrastructure over the next decade provides a major opportunity to strengthen our most underserved businesses and communities,” Senator Padilla said. “It is crucial that future infrastructure projects do not enrich the largest corporations while leaving behind businesses owned and operated in communities that have been too often forgotten. Providing resources to help develop women- and minority-owned businesses will uplift our entire economy and it’s how we truly build back better.”
“As infrastructure projects get underway across the country, and we invest significant resources in underserved communities thanks to the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, it is imperative that more disadvantaged, minority- and women-owned firms have a seat at the table,” Representative Aguilar said. “The Federal Highway Administration’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Supportive Services program has not seen an increase in nearly 50 years. Our legislation more than doubles the current program, to $25 million, and creates similar programs at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). I’m proud to join my friend Senator Padilla as we work to expand economic opportunity and create jobs.”
“Our small businesses are the economic backbone of Los Angeles, and working families depend on them for their livelihoods,” said Representative Jimmy Gomez. “Through the Infrastructure Law, Congress has made historic investments designed to support small business. The Accelerating Small Business Growth Act builds on these investments by addressing long standing inequities in the federal procurement process and helping historically disadvantaged small businesses compete for federal, state, and local government contracts.”
“Small businesses, especially those in under-resourced communities, are still in a period of recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and require targeted resources to support sustainable growth,” said John Arensmeyer, Founder and CEO, Small Business Majority. “We are proud to support U.S. Senator Alex Padilla’s “Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Supportive Services Expansion Act” and “Accelerating Small Business Growth Act.” Both pieces of legislation prioritize disadvantaged businesses, investing in efforts to create equitable competition and promoting diverse economic development initiatives.”
“The Accelerating Small Business Growth and DBE Support Services Expansion Acts were inspired in part by mayors working through Accelerator for America Action’s New Partnership on Infrastructure initiative, and we commend Senator Padilla’s leadership in matching federal policy with local priorities,” said Mary Ellen Wiederwohl, President and CEO, Accelerator for America Action. “This is smart, impactful and much needed legislation that would create a brighter future for small businesses and families all across the country.”
The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Supportive Services Expansion Act would increase the annual funding cap for the Federal Highway Administration’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Supportive Services Program from $10 million to $25 million. This program provides training, assistance, and services to minority- and women-owned businesses to help them develop into self-sufficient organizations that viably compete for federally assisted highway project contracts. However, Congress has not raised the annual funding cap for this program since 1973. The legislation would also establish Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Supportive Services Programs at the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Transit Administration.
The Accelerating Small Business Growth Act would create a grant program to help transportation agencies carry out innovative programs to help underserved businesses grow and achieve proficiency to compete, on an equal basis, for contracts and subcontracts in federally funded transportation projects. Agencies that receive funding through this program would be required to submit reports to the Department of Transportation evaluating the effectiveness of their activities, which would help inform future federal procurement policymaking. This bill would authorize $20 million over the next four years for this program.
Full text of the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Supportive Services Expansion Act can be found here.
Full text of the Accelerating Small Business Growth Act can be found here.