By CASEY HARPER
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – The U.S. Small Business Administration is streamlining its efforts to help veteran-owned small businesses access federal grant dollars ahead of Veterans Day next week.
SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said a portal will open in January 2023 that will allow veteran business owners to apply for federal veteran certification, “important classifications that enable them to qualify for sole-source and set-aside federal contracting awards.”
The push comes as part of a larger effort to help veterans economically, especially those with small businesses. Billions of dollars are set aside annually for the effort.
Proponents aim to make certification and grant opportunities more centralized and easier to access for veterans as it replaces the previous “self certification” process.
“We have been working closely with the SBA for a long time supporting the transfer of this certification program and are glad to see it come to fruition,” said Jay Bowen, chairman of the Veterans Employment and Education Commission at the American Legion. “We know the veteran community will be well-served by this move and that the SBA will make the transition as smooth as possible.”
Ms. Guzman announced that those already certified under the Department of Veterans Affairs system will receive a one-year extension to transition over. The VA stopped accepting applications for certification in October.
“Extending certification will make a real difference for our nation’s veteran business owners,” said Larry Stubblefield, associate administrator for the SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development. “In addition to supporting a smooth transition for currently certified firms, we will be able to focus on certifying new entrants and growing our base of certified firms.”