Boosting Local Economy: Pennsylvania Streamlines Support for Small and Diverse Businesses

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, PA — The Pennsylvania Department of State, led by Secretary Al Schmidt, has announced an initiative that could significantly boost small and diverse businesses in the state. The department is now systematically collecting voluntary information about these businesses and sharing it with the Department of General Services (DGS) — a move that aims to keep tax dollars within the Commonwealth and help local businesses grow.

The Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations (BCCO), a component of the Department of State, has modified its business registration and amendment forms to allow filers to voluntarily indicate if they qualify as a small business, small diverse business, or veteran business enterprise. This pertinent information is then shared weekly with the DGS’s Bureau of Diversity, Inclusion, and Small Business Opportunities (BDISBO).

Secretary Schmidt lauded the initiative as a win-win situation, stating, “This ensures that tax dollars stay here in the Commonwealth, rather than going to companies in other states, while also getting more contracts for our small diverse businesses, which allows those Pennsylvania companies to grow and hire more employees.”

The initiative aligns with the broader objectives of the Shapiro-Davis Administration to create opportunities for small, diverse, and veteran-owned businesses. DGS Secretary Reggie McNeil sees this direct feed of information as a vital tool in helping these businesses succeed. “This will give us the opportunity to contact these small businesses and help them move along the road of success,” he said.

The BCCO’s latest weekly report included filings from nearly 300 businesses, demonstrating the potential scope of this initiative. BDISBO staff are tasked with reviewing these submissions and identifying new businesses that could benefit from their certification process, thus expanding the pool of vendors with whom the Commonwealth can work.

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This proactive approach builds on the momentum created by Governor Shapiro’s Executive Order 2023-18, signed in September. The order directed DGS to foster more competitive procurement and increase spending on goods and services from small and diverse businesses.

Under the executive order, Secretary McNeil updated the Commonwealth’s definition of a small business, raising the revenue limit qualification. Now, a business with fewer than 100 full-time employees and an average revenue of less than $47 million over three years qualifies as a small business. If a third party certifies that such a business is owned by a woman, a minority, an individual with a disability, a member of the LGBTQ community, or a service-disabled veteran, it qualifies as a small diverse business.

Furthermore, the executive order mandates DGS to lead efforts to increase operational spending and participation in the Commonwealth’s Small Business Reserve (SBR) program across various agencies. In a commitment to transparency and accountability, DGS will post semiannual data on each agency’s total operational spending for SBR procurements.

The new initiative by the Department of State and DGS is a significant stride toward strengthening Pennsylvania’s small and diverse businesses. By streamlining the process of identifying these businesses and assisting them in competing for government contracts, the initiative not only provides an economic boost to these enterprises but also fosters a more inclusive and vibrant local economy. It demonstrates the Commonwealth’s commitment to nurturing its diverse business landscape and ensuring all businesses have an opportunity to thrive.

Pennsylvania small business and diverse business owners can access information on BDISBO, Commonwealth contracting opportunities, and additional resources through BDISBO’s website. All business owners can explore business registration via the Department of State’s online Business Filing Services portal.

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