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Small Business Opportunities Day

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
Small Business Opportunities Day
U.S. Department of Transportation
Wednesday, May 16, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Thank you, Willis [Morris].  Willis is doing a great job, and I’m so pleased he is part of our senior leadership team.  Willis was also part of the DOT transition team, and did a great job recruiting talent for us. 

Let me also thank the rest of the team in the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, who worked so hard to put this day together.

Also with us today are Charles James, Director of the Department of Civil Rights here at DOT, and another member of our senior leadership team; Charles Manger, Associate Administrator of the GSA; Michael McLaughlin and Ambuj Neupane from the SBA; and, Andrea Stone, President and CEO of Dynamic Pro Inc.  Thanks for being here and adding your expertise!  And many thanks to all the exhibitors who have joined us, as well.

Welcome everyone!   We are delighted to have you here today, and to provide this forum to help you access federal contracting opportunities. 

This Administration understands that as small business owners, you are part of the engine of economic growth that creates 2 out of every 3 new jobs in our country. 

One of the most important things government can provide are policies that create the climate for overall economic growth.  This Administration is doing its part by cutting taxes, slashing unnecessary regulatory burdens and growing the economy.   The tax reforms enacted by the Congress slashed the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% starting in 2018 – the biggest rate cut in history.  That means our country went from the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world, to being much more in line with our economic competitors.

In total, the package included $3.2 trillion in tax cuts, and $2.1 trillion in reforms for American families. There are many benefits for small business owners, as well.  These include the first-ever 20% deduction of business income for pass through entities such as sole proprietors, Chapter S and limited liability corporations.

It’s no surprise then, that our country’s economy grew by 2.3 percent in 2017, up from 1.6 percent in 2016.   Currently, unemployment is 3.9 percent—a 17-year low.  

The Department of Transportation is a leader among cabinet agencies in ensuring that small businesses have access to federal contracting opportunities.  In fact, every year for the past 10 years, the Department has been awarded an A rating for reaching and exceeding its small business contracting goals.  That record spans several Administrations, and the Department is on the path to achieve another A rating for FY 2017.

In FY 2016, nearly $1 billion in U.S. Department of Transportation contracts were awarded to small businesses.  This includes:

  • more than $416 million to small disadvantaged businesses;
  • more than $200 million to women-owned small businesses;
  • nearly $60 million to small businesses owned by service-disabled veterans; and,
  • more than $200 million to small businesses located in historically underutilized urban and rural areas.

As you may know, helping others access opportunity and build better lives for their families has always been a priority for me.  When I was Secretary of Labor, the Department of Labor convened annual opportunity conferences to help traditionally underserved communities access federal contracting opportunities and more.  These conferences were free and open to the public. 

Here at DOT, I hope we can continue to help underserved communities.  Small business experts are involved in every step of the procurement process, and in setting departmental contracting goals.  There are small business specialists embedded in each of the Department’s modes.  They can help applicants understand and navigate the unique world of government contracting.  Just go to www.dot.gov/osdbu, click on “Procurement Assistance” in the top left box, and then click on “Talk to a small business specialist.”   A list will drop down with the names of the small business contracting officers for each mode, and his or her contact information.  Among the things you can learn from them are the top products and services sold to the Department.  These include assistance with program management, advertising services, IT maintenance and support, and other professional services and subject matter expertise.

Today you will learn about many other tools in the Department’s small business tool box.  But let me mention one more.  On the OSDBU section of the DOT website, under the “Procurement Assistance” drop down menu on the left, you will find the procurement forecasts for 2018 and 2019.  These provide a list of the major DOT contracting opportunities, as well as those specifically set aside for small businesses and traditionally underserved communities.

We wanted to make today’s event as inclusive as possible.  So, it is not limited to DOT contracting opportunities alone.  Representatives from more than 40 government buying offices and prime contractors have been invited, as well. They are listed in your program, and have exhibits in the conference center.  I encourage you to visit them, and learn about the opportunities they have to offer.  Specialists are also on hand to help you connect with them through matchmaking sessions.

Let me close by noting that there are abundant opportunities government-wide for small businesses.  In FY 2017 alone, the preliminary estimate of the total amount of products and services contracted by the federal government to small businesses more than $175 billion.    That’s a truly amazing number. 

I hope today’s conference will help you take the next steps in accessing these opportunities.  The federal procurement environment is unique, and has its own rules.  But there are many resources out there to help you.   

So, thank you for coming.   And thank you for everything you are doing to create jobs, hope and opportunity for others.  Good luck!

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Updated: Thursday, June 7, 2018
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