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The Small Business Congress is a great opportunity for networking and discussion, and to learn from industry insiders. You will have a vote as the Small Business Association determines its top small business priorities for the upcoming session of Congress.

In a previous post, I wrote about the effect of sequestration on small businesses who contract to the federal government. Because of the impending threat of budget cuts to Defense, some government agencies have already decided to cancel or not renew upcoming contracts.

What we don’t know is who will win the election on November 6th and how those results will impact the budget cuts and other important small business issues.

The National Small Business Association has invited small business leaders from across the country to gather in Washington from November 28-30, 2012 for the Small Business Congress. It is a time to band together and define a small business agenda for the entire nation. Then, we can present this message to the federal administration at a crucial time when they are deciding how to deal with the looming financial issues, including sequestration.

This is a great opportunity for networking and discussion, and to learn from industry insiders. Most importantly, you will have a vote as the Small Business Association determines its top small business priorities for the upcoming session of Congress.

Register now to reserve your seat at this pivotal event – I’ll see you there!

P.S. A Hurricane Sandy update: One of the things that small businesses suffer from in a disaster like Hurricane Sandy is the loss of revenue. For example, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) closed their Federal Government offices in the Washington, DC area and elsewhere along the East Coast, both Monday and Tuesday. While all of this is good from a safety point of view, and we are glad for the attention paid, small businesses lose revenue and that revenue is rarely made up.

So, hope you all are safe and dry inside, power fully functional, and more to come.

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The All-Small Mentor-Protégé Program

SBA had a well-established mentor-protégé program (MPP) for SBA 8(a) certified firms but lacked an MPP program for other small business concerns and specifically, one for specialized certified concerns such as WOSB, EDWOSB, SDVOSB, & HubZone. The 2010 Jobs Act and 2013 NDAA gave SBA the authorization to address this by establishing an all-encompassing mentor-protégé program. Ms. Sandi Clifford, deputy director of the All Small Mentor-Protégé Program (ASMPP), visited the Mid-Tier Advocacy (MTA) earlier this year to discuss the program. Here are some of the highlights of this candid and informative discussion: As Ms. Clifford explained, mentor services to protégés include: • Management and technical assistance (internal business management systems) • Financial assistance (in the form of equity investments and/or loans) • Contracting assistance (contracting processes, capabilities acquisitions and performance) • International trade education (learn how to export, international trade business plan, finding markets) • Business development assistance (strategy, finding contracting and partnership opportunities) • General and/or administrative assistance (business processes and support) As administrators of the program, SBA provides: • Central HQ as opposed to 8(a) distributive model • Online application – certify.sba.gov • Online course tutorial requirement • Annual review and evaluation • Template agreements, i.e., MPA (Mentor-Protégé Agreement) Other All-Small Mentor-Protégé Program (ASMPP) details: • A protégé may generally only have one mentor at a time; SBA may approve a second (two is the maximum) where no competition exists, or if the protégé registers under a new NAICS or otherwise requires new mentor skills.  • Both protégé and mentor must be for-profit (with exception of protégé being an agriculture cooperative). • A mentor may have no more than three protégés at same time (no lifetime limit). • A participant can be both a protégé and mentor at the same time, if there is no competition or conflict. • The ASMPP is self-certifying and is open to businesses who qualify as small in their primary NAICS code, or who are seeking business development assistance in a secondary NAICs where they also qualify as small.  • SBA will not authorize MPAs in second NAICS in which firm has never performed any work; or where firm would only bring “small” status to Mentor and nothing else. • Existing 8(a) firms in last 6 months of the 8(a) program may transfer their MPA to the ASMPP via the online application process. Coordinate with 8(a) office to fine tune the process but there is no reapplication required. • Application requirements include upload of business plan, but no financial statements or tax returns. • JV agreements: ASMPP will not review and approve joint venture agreements. How to apply for the ASMPP: • Applicants are required to register in the System for Award Management (SAM) prior to submitting their mentor/protégé application. • Complete your business profile in certify.SBA.gov. • Evaluate and select your mentor prior to applying. This is not a matching program. SBA will not find a mentor for you. • Begin the ASMPP application process. • Protégés and mentors must complete the online tutorial and have their certificate of completion and all other required documents ready for upload Thank you to Sandi Clifford, Deputy Director, All Small Mentor-Protégé Program, for this helpful overview. TAPE has mentored several small businesses over it’s life as a large business (we’re large in some NAICS codes, though still small in others) and it has been gratifying, satisfying, and integral to our success. As protégés ourselves, we have benefitted from working with some really classy large businesses, and have also had the experience of being a protégé and really getting no tangible benefits. We are currently working with two small businesses, and negotiating ASMPP agreements. You can learn more about the ASMPP on the SBA site. To join MTA and attend future events like this one, please visit www.midtier.org.
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