New federal set-asides for women

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New federal set-asides for women

Women-owned small businesses can now register to participate in a new federal program that earmarks certain federal contracts for qualified businesses.

The Small Business Administration's Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program permits federal agencies to restrict competition for certain government contracts to women's businesses. The program is a major victory for women business leaders who have advocated for a federal set-asides program for those businesses for years.

To qualify for the set-asides, the woman-owner of the business must be a U.S. citizen, have at least a 51 percent ownership interest and hold the highest title in the company.

To qualify for these restricted government contracts, a businesses must first go through a certification process to prove that the business is actually woman-owned and controlled. Before applying for certification, businesses should consider amending organizational documents to indicate that they are woman-owned and restricting the woman-owner's ability to transfer her ownership interest.

A business owner can either self-certify or obtain certification from an approved third party. The federal government has only just begun the process of approving third party certifiers, so many women-owned small businesses will need to self-certify. To do so, a business must provide:

• The woman owner's birth certificate.

• Organizational documents, such as articles of incorporation for a corporation.

• A signed copy of the Women-Owned Small Business program certification form, which states that all of the documents and information provided are true and accurate.

Business records alone are not enough to obtain and maintain certification. The woman-owner must actually run the day-to-day operations and must also be qualified to do so.

Businesses that meet the requisite qualifications and can obtain certification should consider taking advantage of this program.

-- Amanda Gerstnecker, Meyer, Unkovic & Scott,

Business workshop is a weekly feature from local experts offering tidbits on matters affecting business. To contribute, contact Business Editor Brian Hyslop at .

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