Advantage Building Contractors, Inc. Leads Discussion with President Obama's Newly Appointed GSA Administrator at Small Business Roundtable Conference

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Eight companies in southeast selected to vocalize small business challenges. Atlanta based construction company, Advantage Building Contractors, Inc., identifies access to capital as biggest challenge and bonding as a top issue for construction companies.

While I support this administration's strategy for economic recovery, we need more support from all of you. It is imperative that GSA, OSDBU and SBA work on more aggressive solutions to make our country a friendlier place for small businesses.

The US General Services Administration is the largest and most diversified real estate organization in the world and is responsible for improving the government’s workplace by managing assets, delivering maximum value in acquisitions, preserving historic property, and implementing technology solutions. GSA has well over a half billion dollars in discretionary budgetary authority on behalf of the US government.

In April 2012, Dan Tangherlini was appointed by President Obama as the Acting Administrator for the GSA. According to GSA, Mr. Tangherlini serves a vital role in President Obama’s agenda to build more sustainable, responsible and effective government for the American people.

In late 2012, Mr. Tangherlini and several executive staff members from GSA and the US Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, hosted a Small Business Roundtable in Atlanta in which eight companies of different disciplines throughout Region IV (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee) discussed the most current small business issues.

Trish Summers, President of Advantage Building Contractors, Inc. opened the discussion and represented construction companies in Region IV.

“Thank you Administrator Tangherlini, Administrator Reddy, Director Quinley, Ms. Vanover and esteemed GSA staff members for inviting my company to participate in GSA’s Small Business Round Table. We are here to today because of the combined commitment of President Obama and GSA to helping small businesses.Thank you for giving us a platform in which we can collectively be heard and acknowledged within this room and in the rooms in DC where major decisions affecting our businesses will be made this fiscal year and for years to come. Small businesses represent 99.7% of all employer firms in the US. We employ just over half of all private sector employees. We pay 44% of total US payroll, but we spend 36% more per employee than larger firms to comply with federal regulations. We spend three times more per employee on tax compliance than our large counterparts. And we rely heavily on owner investment and bank credit which are indicators of our biggest challenge, access to capital.

We are not Fortune 500 companies…yet. Most of us have utilized or exhausted personal resources and collateral to fund our businesses. 2011 and 2012 have been record breaking years for SBA backed loans, but most small businesses are still not getting what we need.

Small businesses need a fair shot. We need more flexibility in lending. We need more loans approved. We need you to utilize your leverage through our realized buying power to get big banks to return to the market because they are generally able to provide longer term, lower cost, working capital loans.

While I support this administration’s strategy for economic recovery, we need more support from all of you. It is imperative that GSA, OSDBU and SBA work together on more aggressive solutions to make our country a friendlier place for small businesses. Tax shelters alone will not allow us to survive. We need you to implement higher small business goals in federal contracting. The consistent small business set-aside goals of 23-25% are not proportionate to our share of contributions to the economy. Conversely, small business set-aside goals exceeding 75% would more accurately reflect our contributions and catapult our economy through this recovery period.

Bonding is the second biggest challenge for small businesses in construction. Indeed, Cash is King. Regarding full and open competitive solicitations, federal agencies should integrate payment and performance bond rebates for small businesses as we generally pay 2%-3% more than large firms to bond federal projects.

For the past year, my firm has struggled to meet the large bonding requirements that multi-million dollar federal contracts require. We have been fortunate to develop a strong past performance portfolio and teaming arrangements that have enabled us to acquire single project bonding capacity of $14 million and $50 million aggregate. We need you to work with the SBA who can in turn can work with surety companies to back more bonds. I urge you to allow more flexibility in your bonding requirements and the mandates of the Miller Act and Federal Acquisition Regulation.

Thank you for your time today and the opportunity to impact current policies. I look forward to the increased delivery of support you will give us.”

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