September 14, 2023–WASHINGTON, D.C.— Last week, the U.S. Black Chambers Inc. (USBC) hosted a fireside chat with the Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Isabel Guzman to discuss the recent decision issued by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee (Greenville Division) on the Ultima Services Corp. v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture case. The court ruled in late July that the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development program could no longer rely on race as a justification for stating a business’ social disadvantage and need to use the 8(a) program, this program is critical in connecting entrepreneurs of all backgrounds to contract opportunities in a competitive marketplace. Following the case, all new applications to the 8(a) program were put on pause, followed by a release of public guidance explaining that the program will now require all current participants who are certified under the presumption of social disadvantage to re-certify using a social disadvantage narrative.
USBC urges its members and chamber leaders to refer to the available resources including a Guide for Writing a Social Disadvantage Narrative and SBA’s “Social Disadvantage Narrative” Information Session Webinar hosted on August 30, 2023. Sharing these resources and reviewing them closely is essential for helping impacted businesses navigate this change that was released in response to the case.
Ron Busby, Sr., President and CEO of the U.S. Black Chambers Inc. stated the following:
“While we are disheartened to witness yet another attack on federal programs intended to connect our business community to contract opportunities, especially through once-in-a-generation investments in infrastructure and manufacturing efforts, we underscore our commitment towards ensuring that Black firms are equipped to navigate the updated 8(a) processes and guidelines. We will not hesitate to engage our vast network of public-private partnerships and will continue to work alongside our partners to provide timely updates, resources, and guidance for our impacted businesses in the 8(a) program following the recent developments.”
The SBA’s 8(a) Business Development program provides businesses with an opportunity to participate in a nine-year program that provides training, technical assistance mentoring, and guidance for small firms to effectively compete in the federal procurement marketplace. This program has been critical to providing Black firms with economic opportunity in government contracting. Read more about the 8(a) program. SBA recently released new guidance to help 8(a) program participants navigate the court’s ruling.