U.S. Rep. Ron Barber today introduced legislation that would help women business owners do business with the federal government.
Barber, a member of the House Committee on Small Business, is a cosponsor of the Women's Procurement Program Equalization Act which was introduced today -- the same day that Barber invited a woman business owner from Tucson to testify before the Small Business Committee.
"Women-owned businesses are a critical part of the economy in Southern Arizona and nationwide," Barber said. "Steps we take to help these small businesses will boost the overall economy as we continue working to improve the jobs market."
Barber noted that women-owned businesses receive only about 4 percent of federal-government contracts. To increase that figure, the Women's Procurement Program Equalization Act will set aside certain contracts to be awarded only to businesses owned by a woman.
Similar programs already exist to ensure that businesses owned by service-disabled veterans and for businesses located in lower economic areas.
The legislation was praised today by Lea Marquez Peterson, president and CEO of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
"Thank you to Congressman Barber for his support of the Women's Procurement Program," Peterson said. "Action needs to be taken to encourage the purchasing of products and services sold by women owned-businesses in Arizona and the U.S. A sole-source, set-aside program is a necessary step to promote the more than 7.8 million woman-owned businesses in our nation."
The legislation also is supported by the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce.
Also today, Barber hosted Shelly Little-Gibbons, vice president of the family-owned Quik Mart Stores Inc. of Tucson. The 48-year-old company, which is owned by Little-Gibbons, her sister and brother, has 27 stores in the Tucson area.
Barber invited Little-Gibbons to Washington to testify before the House Committee on Small Business about the history of her company and the challenges faced by small businesses. Barber's introduction of Little-Gibbons and her testimony can be seen here:
Barber is himself a former small business owner and during today's hearing he noted, "I know just how hard it is to start a business and make ends meet year after year."
"As a member of Congress, it is now my job to make sure the voices and small businesses in Arizona are heard here in Washington," Barber said today. "I invited Shelly here today to testify before this committee to tell her family's story because their small business is a shining example of the entrepreneurial spirit that is in so many Southern Arizonans and working families across this country."