Women's Groups Lambaste SBA Plan

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and that's just about the reaction that women's business groups are having to the Small Business Administration's new plan I wrote about last week.

The latest to weigh in is the National Association of Women Business Owners, which called the government's plan a "failure."

"As a business owner and president of the only dues-based national organization representing the interests of all women entrepreneurs across all industries, I am disappointed that the Small Business Administration has, again, failed to be an advocate for women business owners," said association President Lisa Kaiser Hickey, who also heads Douglas Screen Printers in Lakeland, Fla.

The group said in a Wednesday statement that it will encourage the SBA to reconsider the proposed rule and to take other actions designed to assure that women business owners get their fair share of federal contracts and no less than the 5 percent of federal dollars that Congress set as a target in 1994.

Last week, Woman Impacting Public Policy also expressed outrage over the agency's plan: "While Washington was quiet this holiday season, the SBA was working to deliver a lump of coal to women business owners," said group President Barbara Kasoff. "This proposed rule demonstrates that women business owners are not important to this administration nor the political process."

The rule would limit the number of governmental contracts awarded to women entrepreneurs by requiring women-owned businesses to show under-representation in thousands of industries and direct discrimination by a government agency to qualify for protected status. The new rule would extend this status to women-owned businesses in four categories listed by the North American Industry Classification System: kitchen cabinet manufacturing, engraving, certain motor vehicles and intelligence.

"One of our members is the nation's only woman-owned munitions designer, and according to this new rule, SBA believes the munitions industry is over-represented by women and faces no discrimination in procurement," said Kasoff.

Lawmakers plan to address the issue in hearings this month.

By Sharon McLoone |  January 2, 2008; 2:30 PM ET Regulation Legislation
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