Is your small business a participant in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Program, or thinking about applying for certification? For disadvantaged small businesses, the SBA’s 8(a) Program is an important source of contracting opportunities, but comes with a unique series of complex and confusing compliance requirements.
If you need an 8(a) Program lawyer, Steven Koprince and Petefish, Immel, Heeb & Hird, LLP can help you understand and meet the 8(a) Program’s rules, as well as help you create powerful 8(a) mentor-protégé and 8(a) joint venture agreements to maximize your company’s 8(a) Program potential.
8(a) Program Applications
For most companies, to be certified for participation in the 8(a) Program, you must demonstrate (among other things) that your company is unconditionally and directly owned and controlled by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. But what does “unconditional” mean? Who qualifies as “disadvantaged?”
Petefish’s 8(a) program attorneys can help you understand the 8(a) Program’s eligibility requirements and assist you in preparing your 8(a) Program application. We will review your bylaws, operating agreement, or other corporate documents to ensure that your company meets the “unconditional” requirements, and help you complete the SBA Form 413 and other documentation you need to demonstrate social and economic disadvantage.
8(a) Program Requests for Reconsideration
If the SBA denies your application to the 8(a) Program, you have the opportunity to request reconsideration. A strong 8(a) request for reconsideration corrects the problems the SBA identified in your 8(a) application and challenges any factual or legal errors the SBA made in processing your application.
Drawing on Steven Koprince’s experience helping small businesses gain admission to the 8(a) Program, Petefish’s 8(a) program attorneys will work with you to correct the issues the SBA identified and prepare a strong legal response to any errors the SBA made in evaluating your application.
8(a) Program Suspensions and Terminations
If the SBA believes your company no longer qualifies for the 8(a) Program, it will send you a letter proposing “early graduation” from the 8(a) Program, or, worse, suspension or termination from the 8(a) Program. If the SBA suspends you from the 8(a) Program or proposes to terminate your 8(a) Program participation, treat the notice very seriously, because without a strong and effective response, your small business will lose its 8(a) certification.
Just because the SBA has suspended your company from the 8(a) Program or proposed your company for 8(a) Program termination does not necessarily mean that it is the end of the line for your 8(a) Program status. Petefish’s 8(a) program attorneys can help you prepare a response to the suspension or proposed termination, explaining why your company is still eligible for participation. And, if necessary, Petefish can help you appeal your 8(a) Program suspension or termination to the SBA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals.
8(a) Program Mentor-Protégé Agreements
One of the most powerful benefits available to 8(a) Program participants is the 8(a) mentor-protégé program. Done right, participating in the 8(a) mentor-protégé program may enable your company to receive financial, technical and other types of assistance from a mentor company (including a large business) and even joint venture with that company without risk of affiliation. However, the 8(a) mentor-protégé program includes its own special rules, which you must follow in order to obtain the benefits.
Petefish’s 8(a) program attorneys can help you prepare a compliant and effective 8(a) mentor-protégé agreement and put in place procedures to ensure that your 8(a) mentor-protégé relationship continues to comply with the SBA’s rules after it is approved.
8(a) Program Joint Venture Agreements
Joint venturing is a popular option for 8(a) Program participants, particularly because an 8(a) company and its mentor may be able to joint venture together on 8(a) or small business set-aside contracts for which the 8(a) company qualifies, even if the mentor is a large business. But, like everything else in the 8(a) Program, joint venturing must be done right.
Petefish’s 8(a) program attorneys can help you prepare and submit a compliant 8(a) Program joint venture agreement, including the “extra” information required by the SBA’s 8(a) Program Standard Operating Procedure.