Silotech Group Inc. is a San Antonio-based technology consulting, staffing and educational company founded by Tiffany Tremont. During the past fiscal year, Silotech was awarded about $2.2 million across several contracts, according to data compiled by USASpending.gov, a website owned by the federal government.
More than $251 million in government contracts were awarded to 128 women-owned businesses in the San Antonio region during fiscal 2015, which helped break a new record at the national level.
For the first time, about 5 percent of all federal government contracts available to small businesses were awarded to women-owned businesses — to the tune of $17.8 billion across the nation. It had been a goal for years, but it had never achieved in the competitive marketplaces.
There are about 600 small businesses that are at least 51 percent women owned in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s San Antonio district, which spans across 55 Texas counties.
Of those, some notable contract awards ranged from the technology industry to staffing services.
Smaller contracts involved local firms such as Microtech Engineering, a specialized staffing company for information technology and health care professionals owned by Mary Ellen Londrie, for $278,413 during the past fiscal year. The San Antonio Testing Laboratory, where Marcela Hawk is the company president and Richard Hawk is the general manager, pulled in $17,105.
About 25 percent of all contracts, or $90.7 billion, went to small businesses overall during the past fiscal year. By comparison, about 3.9 percent of federal government contracts went to disabled veteran-owned small businesses, and 10 percent went to small disadvantaged businesses.
The push for more women-owned companies to have a chance stems from a legislation approved two years ago.
In December 2014, President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act, which authorized federal agencies to award sole-source contracts to eligible women-owned businesses during fiscal 2015. Congress had created the women-owned small business federal contract program in 2000 after legislative approval but wasn’t active.
Women’s business resource centers were also established. There is one inside Café Commerce in the Alamo City, while the other within the local district is in Austin. There is another program for women-owned businesses to participate in federal contracting called ChallengeHER.
“One of the main things that fueled this growth has been the authorization of the NDAA. This was the critical move that has allowed them to have a goal and do sole-source contracts,” said Ron Dear, deputy district director for the San Antonio Small Business Administration District office.
A sole-source contract refers to a noncompetitive bid in which SBA-approved companies are suggested as potential candidates to provide services to federal agencies.
Sometimes contracts may be renewed for up to five years.
“If they do a good job it may be extended,” Dear said. “In the past they have not been given equal access to federal contracting.”
There are a variety of certifications for small businesses that can help companies stand out. One of them is the 8(m) program, which is for women-owned businesses in some industries.
The next training session on the program is scheduled on March 9 at the San Antonio SBA District office.
Another is the SBA 8(a) Business Development Program, which is a nine-year program that offers assistance to firms that are majority owned by economically disadvantaged people. Businesses involved in that program may be eligible for these noncompetitive contracts up to $4 million for goods and services and $6.5 million in the manufacturing sector. As the companies grow and eventually graduate, the goal is to help prepare them to compete for all contracts.