By Aikta Marcoulier, SBA Region Eight Administrator

During July, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will kick off its Build America, Buy American month of action to highlight the administration’s commitments to America’s small businesses, entrepreneurs, and startups and highlight the benefits of the president’s bipartisan infrastructure law that will create opportunities for small manufacturers and contractors.

As Montana and the nation recovers from the pandemic, and supply chain issues, the federal government must begin to level the playing field for small manufacturing firms wanting to scale up, expand, and compete globally.  As I visit local communities throughout the Rocky Mountain region, I am seeing more jobs, more hope, and something else more important: the rebirth of pride that comes from buying American.

Montana is a hub for small manufacturers. One example is Hi Country Snack Foods, which is based in Lincoln. Hi Country is the largest employer in the county employing 50 full time people. The business started as a beef jerky company forty years ago, but under the ownership of Travis Byerly the business has expanded into new products lines including a variety of flavored jerky, and specialty seasonings.  Byerly also operates the Hi-Country Trading Post which is packed full of made in Montana products.

The SBA’s mission is to assure there is an equitable federal procurement strategy that prioritizes small, disadvantaged businesses which will increase competition and rebuild our economy from the bottom up and the middle out. The SBA is collaborating with an array of federal agencies to take “shopping small” to a whole new level by transforming how the U.S. government-the world’s largest buyer-spends more than $560 billion of America’s tax dollars on goods and services each year.

To assist businesses with planning, strategy, and contracting, the SBA has various partners including local Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACS) to assist small businesses. President Biden laid out his vision to open more doors to federal contracting with an ambitious goal: Increase the share going to small, and disadvantaged businesses by 50 percent by 2025. Buying from small, and disadvantaged businesses will leverage the federal government’s purchasing power to reestablish domestic supply chains and American made products – using market growth opportunities to strengthen our nation’s industrial base.

Included in these reforms is an effort to make certain that “category management,” a government-wide initiative to strategically source commonly purchased goods and services, does not shut out small businesses. We want to make it easier for more small businesses owned by people of color, women, and veterans, to do business with the federal government. The administration has directed over 40,000 federal contracting officers across government to spend tens of billions of dollars more with small, disadvantaged businesses.

The  Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s $1.2 trillion created an enormous opportunity for small construction and service firms.  The SBA stands ready to support these businesses with bonding capacity, access to capital, and the ability to subcontract with large businesses to get their fair share of the contracting pie. We must ensure all taxpayer dollars are being used to fortify entrepreneurship, innovation, and domestic supply chains, and in the process strengthen our democracy by creating equitable pathways to the American dream.


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