Northam signs executive orders to helps advance diversity among Virginia’s small businesses

RICHMOND, Va. – An executive order put in place by Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday will look to expand opportunities for small businesses run by woman, minorities and service-disabled veterans.

According to state officials, Executive Order Thirty-Five has allowed Northam to direct the executive branch’s agencies and institutions that have statutory authority over procurement to achieve a target of procuring 42 percent of discretionary spending from certified small businesses. The Executive Order also maintains a set-aside for certified micro businesses, which have fewer than 25 employees and no more than $3 million in average annual revenue over a three-year period.

“Small businesses are a vital economic engine for Virginia, making up 97 percent of all businesses, but we know there is work to do to ensure they have equal opportunity to grow and succeed in our Commonwealth,” said Northam. “With this Executive Order, we are strengthening our commitment to expanding small business participation in state contracting and achieving equity for our women- and minority-owned businesses.”

Virginia produced disparity studies in 2004 and 2011 that found 1.27 percent (2004) and 2.82 percent (2011) of total state contracts were awarded to women- and minority-owned businesses. Conducting an updated disparity study is the first step toward determining whether these businesses still face disparate treatment and tailoring new programming to address the findings of the report, say officials with the state.

Executive Order Thirty-Five continues the set-aside programs for certified small businesses for the purchase of up to $100,000 for goods and nonprofessional services, and increases the threshold to $80,000 for professional services, and $10,000 for micro businesses. The Commonwealth does not have set-aside programs specific to women- and minority-owned businesses, but such programs will be evaluated as part of the disparity study process.

“State contracting provides the catalyst for economic opportunity and expands access for many businesses,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “It is imperative for Virginia to maximize the participation of small businesses and to ensure that there is equity and transparency in the process.”

More on the executive order can be found here.

To read Executive Order Thirty-Five, click here.

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