Each year, companies graduate from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Business Development 8(a) Program, with the potential and capabilities to grow into successful businesses.
SBA’s 8(a) Program helps firms develop and grow through one-on-one counseling, training workshops, management, and technical guidance.
It also provides access to government contracting opportunities, which allows the companies to become solid competitors in the federal marketplace. In fiscal year 2018, small businesses received more than $17.6 billion in 8(a) contract dollars.
Enter The ELOCEN Group, which is owner Necole Parker Green’s first name spelled backwards. Green started the woman- and minority-owned construction company in her parent’s basement in 2006, providing expertise in construction, consulting, and design services for federal and commercial clients.
One of the biggest challenges for Parker Green was gaining the equal respect and access to the same opportunities as her male counterparts in the construction industry. To combat this, she entered the SBA’s 8(a) Program in 2009.
“We’ve been able to regularly exceed targeted goals, consistently increase staffing year over year, and leverage relationships established throughout our engagement with SBA,” Parker Green said of her experience with the program.
Parker Green has since graduated from the 8(a) program and believes it was instrumental to her growth. The proof is in the pudding. The ELOCEN Group has received more than $140 million in federal contracts throughout its tenure in the 8(a) Program. Parker Green has now established a joint venture agreement with the SBA’s All Small Mentor-Protégé Program and has partnered with large prime contractors on other federal contracts.
In 2015, the SBA named Parker Green its D.C. Small Business Person of the Year. For the past five years, she has been an American Express Summit for Success ambassador at its annual events, providing business insight to entrepreneurs on becoming a trusted government contractor, growing to scale, and successfully navigating the complexities of working with large firms.
Giving minority groups a chance
The SBA certifies socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses under its nine-year 8(a) Business Development Program. Members of certain minority groups, including African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, and Subcontinent Asian Americans, are presumed socially disadvantaged. Firms owned by Alaska Native Corporations, Indian Tribes, Native Hawaiian Organizations, and Community Development Corporations are also eligible to participate in the program.