Small business is a big job

Steve LeSueur

Backbone of the nation. Driver of economic growth. Pillar of the American dream. Small businesses have been called all of these things, but being a small business is not easy.

In this issue, Staff Writer Gail Repsher Emery explores the challenges faced by one subset of the small business world: woman-owned businesses.

The government has rightly made contracting with small businesses a priority, decreeing that 23 percent of contracting dollars should go to small businesses. To push this and other social goals, the government has set sub-goals within this broader goal to encourage agencies to contract with businesses in economically depressed areas, businesses owned by minority groups and businesses owned by disabled military veterans.

The government has also set a 5 percent goal for woman-owned businesses but has not taken the next step, as it has done for other disadvantaged groups, to create a set-aside status for woman-owned businesses.

Nevertheless, many have flourished, making women, as a group, ambivalent about how strongly to demand special status. Many want it, say it's needed and are pushing for it. Others aren't so sure. Read Repsher's article before deciding for yourself where you stand.

And while you're at it, check out the rest of our annual small-business issue. The special package includes Washington Technology's Top 25 8(a) contractors and the Fast 50, a ranking of the 50 fastest growing small businesses ? all rising stars in the government market.

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