Flagship 8(a) Program is Flagging

An article in Set-Aside Alert of March 8, 2013, reports the number of firms participating in the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) program has been steadily falling over the past six years – a decline that shows no signs of reversal, according to figures provided by the SBA to Set-Aside Alert. The SBA’s Darryl Hairston, Associate Administrator for the 8(a) Business Development office said “[t]here are several factors to be considered in the rate of increase or decrease in the number of 8(a) Business Development program participants . . . over the past three years, there have been a significant number of firms that have completed their nine-year terms and have voluntarily withdrawn from program participation.” “While we continue to see strong interest in the 8(a) program . . . the number of applicants eligible for program participation has not kept pace with the number of program exits,” Hairston said. The SBA is currently engaging in “an aggressive outreach effort” to attract more applicants to the 8(a) program, Hairston added. Specialists familiar with the 8(a) program suggested several factors that may be contributing to the loss in participation, including changes in eligibility requirements, limited SBA support staff, less assistance, and the cost and time associated with therewith, according to the article.

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