More than 100 new industries are now eligible for the Small Business Administration’s (“SBA”) Woman-Owned Small Business (“WOSB”) contract program.[1]  The SBA implemented the WOSB program in order to expand the number of industries where woman-owned small buisnesses could compete.  The program allows set-asides for Economically Disadvantaged WOSBs (“EDWOSBs”) in industries where WOSBs are underrepresented and set-asides for WOSBs where they are substantially underrepresented.

In 2012, the SBA classified 83 four-digit North American Industry Classification System (“NAICS”) industry group codes as “underrepresented” and “substantially underrepresented.”  In 2014, Congress amended the Small Business Act to require the SBA to conduct a new study concerning these classifications.  As a result of the study, on March 3, 2016, the SBA added 113 new NAICS industry groups to the list deemed to be “underrepresented” and “substantially underrepresented.”

The new list authorizes WOSB set-asides in 92 NAICS industry groups and EDWOSB set-asides in 21 NAICS industry groups.  This was the first update to the classifications since 2012.  New additions include Residential Building Construction (2361), Nonresidential Building Construction (2362), Utility System Construction (2371), Highway, Street, and Bridge Construction (2373), and Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction (23710).

See the full lists of the 2016 6-digit NAICS codes designated for EDWOSB, here, and for WOSB set-asides, here.

Comment: The Federal Government’s recent expansion of the Woman-Owned Small Business program stands in stark contrast to the state of Washington stance on woman-owned buisnesses. In March 2014, the Washington State Department of Transportation submitted a proposal to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration to exclude non-minority women-owned businesses from Washington’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (“DBE”) program goals for federally-funded contracts. Read more here.

[1] Thank you to Michael H. Payne and Maria L. Panichelli for inspiring this article.  In a Major Win for Women Owned Businesses, SBA Expands WOSB/EDWOSB-Eligible Industry List, Federal Construction Contracting Blog, March 4, 2016.

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