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SBA Pushes Small Businesses to Compete for Sandy-Related Contract Work

Newark, NJ, August 8, 2013 — Stacy Jones reports in The Star-Ledger that the last time Karen Mills, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, made a public appearance in New Jersey she was touring a Jersey City spa that took on 6 feet of water during Hurricane Sandy and urging people to apply for the SBA’s disaster loans.

Mills’ return yesterday, at a contracting matchmaking event hosted by the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), kicked off an SBA-wide push to get small businesses off the bench and competing for recovery-related contract work with government agencies and private corporations.

“We’re back today, being hosted in this great institution which is a long-time partner of ours, to help small businesses get a large share of the contracts that are being let by federal agencies and others in post-Sandy recovery activity,” Mills said.  “And already 27 percent of those contracts have gone to small businesses.”

The SBA only tracks federal contracts, but invited private buyers like AT&T, Verizon, ADP, Panasonic and Staples to set up tables and screen potential vendors.

Business owners had 10 minutes to woo buyers at 30 tables set up throughout the NJIT campus center’s second floor.  A warning went out when two minutes were left and then, much like speed dating, business owners had to relinquish their seat across from the procurement officer.

During yesterday’s event, Mills also announced the SBA would be using $13.1 million to fund new Sandy recovery programs in communities affected by the storm.

In New Jersey, the Small Business Development Center network will act as coordinator, doling out the state’s $3.5 million share of the new grant money to business groups.

Jones reports that Shaun Donovan, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, also attended the Newark event, announcing that the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force he oversees will release a report in two weeks with more than 100 recommendations for the long-term hurricane recovery.

“One of the things we touch on are the 9 million customers who lost power around the region. We can’t rebuild infrastructure the way it was before. We’ve got to build stronger and smarter,” he said. “We also think more flexible spending from the SBA would be helpful.”

For Jones’ full Star-Ledger story, click here.