On many occasions, I have written or spoken about Virginia’s “small business” program which does an uneven job of distributing contracting opportunities to small or minority-owned businesses for state-related business.
For the past two years, I’ve sat on the Procurement Reform Commission which has looked at ways reform Virginia’s laws so as to deliver best value for the taxpayer, while giving small business a chance to compete. (Yes, I’m aware there’s an internal tension).
One of the major problems has been Virginia’s existing definition of “Small Business” which is any business that has less than 250 employees or does less than $10 million in annual receipts. Basically that’s everyone, except retail monsters like Target, Wal-Mart and others.
This year, I borrowed an idea from Delegate Alfonso Lopez and filed SB 885, which sought to refine that definition. He carried a similar bill in the House.
After a drawn-out process (and a couple false starts), we are on the verge of passing twin bills this week which will eventually replace Virginia’s outdated definition with the Federal standard that has a sliding scale for businesses based on capital and labor needs. It will ensure that a “small business” in Virginia will actually be a small business.
This will have the added bonus of uniformity for firms that seek Federal and state small business awards. I was happy to get the blessing today from Commerce Secretary Maurice Jones, as well as various small business stakeholders.
(Another small business measure, SB 891, should also pass the House today. It protects small businesses from being forced to sign lien waivers before they begin work on a project — thereby waiving their ability to collect. It is strongly supported by the building trades in Virginia).
For some mysterious reason, this has been my most productive session in my twelve years in Richmond. Either I’m getting smarter or everyone else is coming down to my level.