Senate Clears Bill To Establish Small Business Assistance Program

In an effort provide further assistance to small, disadvantaged businesses, the Senate today advanced legislation sponsored by Senator Troy Singleton and Senator James Beach which would create a State business assistance program.

“We are constantly looking for new and creative ways to support our small business community and address historic disadvantages,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “This legislation would create a more streamlined and uniform process to assist the state in contracting with diverse businesses. Additionally, the program would allow the State to establish procurement goals for all disadvantaged businesses.”

The bill, S-855, would establish a State business assistance program, under the Department of Treasury (DOT), to outline contracting agency obtainment goals for economically and socially disadvantaged businesses. The program would establish a system to assist contracting agencies in identifying and utilizing qualified businesses in their contracting processes.

“The program established under this bill has the potential to extend assistance to other groups of marginalized business owners that currently do not have specifically established programs, such as business owners with disabilities,” said Senator Beach (D-Burlington/Camden). “By supporting small businesses to the best of our ability, we are investing in the long term economic growth of the State.”

Under the bill, a business would be considered an economically disadvantaged business if the owner can demonstrate that the ability to compete in business has been impaired due to diminished capital and credit opportunities, as compared to others in the same or similar line of business who are not socially disadvantaged. The owner must also demonstrate a personal net worth that does not exceed a level established by the DOT, but does not include equity in any personal residence or business for which the person is applying for certification.

Additionally, a business would be considered socially disadvantaged if the owner is a part of a racial minority group or shows personal disadvantage due to color, ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical disability, which includes service-connected disabilities. Owners may also demonstrate personal disadvantage not common to other businesses, or have a business located in a low-income community to be classified as socially disadvantaged.

The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 23-6.

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