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Arkansas expands minority business program to include women, veteran firms

Published Sep 08, 2017

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson recently signed into law a measure that expands the Arkansas Economic Development Commission's (AEDC) minority business (MBE) program to include women-owned business enterprises (WBEs), service-disabled veteran-owned business enterprises (SDVBEs), and other business enterprises owned by several minority groups not previously included under the program.

This move will help certified businesses compete for contracts in Arkansas under the terms of the program, which allows firms to be counted towards participation goals for those contracts and to receive certain other advantages in the competitive bidding process. Technical assistance would be offered to certified companies.

"Arkansas' Minority and Women-Owned businesses have a unique opportunity to increase their market share in their chosen industry while enhancing our thriving economy," said the governor. "By expanding the program, we are actively supporting our current minority and veteran-owned businesses while potentially creating a new generation of women-owned entrepreneurs with widened access to state business."

The state's overall contracting participation goal for firms covered by the certification process will remain unchanged at 10 percent, although 2 percent of that figure will now be subdivided and set aside as a goal for SDVBEs specifically.

The state recorded an overall 7.46 percent participation in state contracting on the part of eligible disadvantaged businesses in 2015, the most recent year for which a report is available from the AEDC.

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