SBA: SDVOSB, HUBZone, WOSB Mentor-Protege Programs May Arrive In 2014

The SBA will “make it a priority” to adopt regulations establishing mentor-protege programs for SDVOSBs, HUBZones, and WOSBs in the next 12 months, according to the SBA’s most recent semiannual regulatory agenda.

The regulatory agenda states that the three new mentor-protege programs are expected to be “similar” to the 8(a) mentor-protege program, which suggests that the special joint venturing benefits currently available only to 8(a)s may become available to SDVOSBs, HUBZones and WOSBs, as well.

The regulatory agenda notes that the Small Business Jobs Act authorized the SBA to create mentor-protege programs for SDVOSBs, HUBZones, and WOSBs.  The SBA states:

During the next 12 months, SBA will make it a priority to issue regulations establishing the three newly authorized mentor-protege programs and set out the standards for participating as a mentor or protege in each. As is the case with the current mentor-protege program, the various forms of assistance that a mentor will be expected to provide to a protege include technical and/or management assistance; financial assistance in the form of equity investment and/or loans; subcontracts; and/or assistance in performing prime contracts with the Government in the form of joint venture arrangements.

The SBA states that at this point, it believes that the best option for implementing these three new mentor-protege programs “is to create a regulatory scheme that is similar to the existing mentor-protege program.”  In other words, the new SDVOSB, HUBZone and WOSB mentor-protege programs are expected to look a lot like the 8(a) mentor-protege program–which would presumably include the special joint venturing benefit.

Those who follow agencies’ regulatory agendas (okay, I admit, there probably aren’t many of us) know that the stated timetables are often optimistic.  Nevertheless, the SBA’s identification of the new mentor-protege programs as a priority is heartening.  Forward-thinking SDVOSBs, HUBZones and WOSBs may want to begin feeling out potential mentors, even if it will be a year or two before the relationship can be formally approved by the SBA.

And what of the 2013 NDAA, which authorized mentor-protege programs for all small businesses?  The regulatory agenda refers to the NDAA, but is vague about if and when the SBA will extend mentor-protege beyond the 8(a), SDVOSB, HUBZone and WOSB programs.  Stay tuned.

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