Small businesses may have opportunities to share their products beyond their rural storefronts, say officials from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Officials outline exporting, government contract prospects for Kansas small businesses
Small Business Administration has network to help, they say
Dec. 7, 2021
MANHATTAN, Kan. – Officials with the U.S. Small Business Administration said rural businesses in Kansas often don’t think of exporting their goods around the world, or even developing partnerships with government agencies.
But they should.
“I know that sounds daunting to a small business,” said Sarah Haymaker, the deputy director of SBA’s Wichita office. “But we have a great network of partners in Kansas to help.”
Haymaker and her colleagues were featured speakers Dec. 3 during K-State Research and Extension’s monthly online series, First Friday e-Calls, which helps to nurture small businesses and inspire entrepreneurship in Kansas.
Haymaker called small business exporters “an untapped market opportunity for SBA lenders.” She cited statistics indicating that 95% of the world’s consumers live outside the United States and 98% of this country’s exporters are small businesses.
“And yet, just 1% of all small businesses actually export their goods,” she said.
The SBA, Haymaker said, offers a State Trade Expansion Program – also called STEP grants – to provide funding for small business owners to go on trade missions to countries where their goods may be needed. The funds are distributed through the Kansas Department of Commerce through its International Trade Division.
Haymaker added the program also helps small business owners through the process of establishing an export market, including such items as international patents, licenses, insurance, letters of credit, distributors and more. The SBA also offers financing programs through its lenders to fund export working capital and international trade.
“We find that businesses that export stay in business longer, they have more employees and they are not as subject to (negative) turns in the economy, because what may be affecting us in the United States may not be affecting those foreign markets,’ Haymaker said.
Wayne Bell, the district coordinator for the SBA’s office in Wichita, said contracting with government agencies is another area of growth for small businesses.
“The federal government is the largest consumer of goods and services in the world…about $650 billion per year,” Bell said. In Kansas, he added, government purchases more than $2 billion in goods and services annually.
Bell said the government’s current push is to promote more equity in awarding federal contracts. One way the government is doing this is by “un-bundling” its product and service categories under category management principles so that small businesses can better participate in the federal marketplace. Federal contracting trends reflect that small firms face challenges in accessing contracts when agencies do not set them aside exclusively for small business participation.
Haymaker noted an example of a small business in Kansas that was able to land a government janitorial contract at a federal building in Goodland. “Everywhere there is a federal building, there is an opportunity for small businesses,” she said.
Small businesses in Kansas can find where they may fit by contacting the SBA’s office in Wichita, or contacting the Kansas Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) online and the Kansas Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
The full Dec. 3 presentation, SBA Tools for Scaling Up Your Small Business, and other First Friday presentations are available online from K-State Research and Extension.