BUSINESS + ECONOMY

Rep. Maloy’s bill aims to help women-owned small businesses

Feb 2, 2024, 5:15 PM

women-owned businesses...

Photo: Getty Images

SALT LAKE CITY — New to Congress, Utah Republican Rep. Celeste Maloy is reaching across the political aisle to help women-owned small businesses — with an emphasis on small.

As a member of the House Committee on Small Business, Maloy introduced the WOSB Integrity Act of 2024 along with Michigan Democrat Rep. Hillary Scholten. The legislation recently passed the committee.

In Fiscal Year 2022, the federal government committed about $694 billion on contracts. This was an increase of approximately $3.6 billion from FY 2021, after adjusting for inflation, according to The U.S. Government Accountability Office. Of that $694 billion, about $280 billion is designated for civilian federal agencies, with $414 billion going to the U.S. Defense Department.

Federal agencies enter into contracts with outside companies and organizations. These contracts are used to provide products and services, ranging from aircraft and software to food service and health care, according to the GAO.

 

What qualifies as a women-owned small businesses?

The bill’s goal, Maloy said, is to allocate 5% of civilian contracts to only women-owned small businesses (WOSB). However, a loophole in the law needed closing first.

“It wasn’t that the loophole was keeping women out, but it was letting larger businesses in, so these new small businesses couldn’t compete,” she said.

What Is A Small Business?

To be eligible for the WOSB Federal Contract program, according to the SBA, a business must:

  • Be a small business according to SBA size standards,
  • Be at least 51% owned and controlled by women who are U.S. citizens.
  • Have women manage day-to-day operations who also make long-term decisions.

“Businesses have to prove that they’re female-owned. They don’t have to prove that they’re small businesses,” Maloy said. “There are businesses maybe like Spanx — it’s a woman-owned company but it’s large and very successful now, which shouldn’t be competing in the same pool as these small businesses .” 

Spanx is an Atlanta-based shape-wear company. It skyrocketed to fame after Oprah Winfrey included it on her “Oprah’s Favorite Things” list in 2000, according to Success.

Bridge burner or builder?

“A new, starting business doesn’t have to compete with big established businesses that have public relations people, and grant writers and people on staff who can just do this full time,” she added.

Maloy said a successful female lawyer told her there are two types of successful women: those who burn the bridge behind them and those who improve the bridge and bring other female entrepreneurs along. 

Related: 2023 was full of challenges for small businesses in Utah but resources are available


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Rep. Maloy’s bill aims to help women-owned small businesses