8a certification is not just a stamp of approval from the government it’s a guarantee that you are a qualified, capable contractor who can deliver quality results on time and under budget. And that’s something that every business owner wants and needs.
Being an 8a-certified contractor means you are part of a select group that is qualified for certain advantages, such as access to federal contracts, reserved grants, and other resources as well as expert advice, guidance, training, and other forms of specialized business counseling. With 8a certification, you have more opportunities to bid on lucrative government contracts and grow your business.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the various benefits of 8a certification, how to become 8a certified, the application process involved, and the costs associated with becoming certified.
What Is an 8a-Certified Contractor?
An 8a-certified contractor is a small business, generally owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged businesses, that has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). To become an 8a-certified contractor, the business must meet certain requirements set by the SBA.
Benefits of 8a Certification
8a certified contractors are eligible for certain benefits, such as access to exclusive contracting programs and set-aside contracts with various federal agencies. Through the 8a program, contractors can partake in construction projects, services, and supply provides by government entities. Also, a percentage of all available federal contracting is designated specifically for businesses enrolled in the 8a business development program.
Some of the major benefits of 8a certification include;
- Increased access to capital and valuable contracting opportunities
- Preference in contracting competitions
- Ability to form joint ventures and teaming agreements with other businesses
- Assistance from the SBA in business development activities such as marketing, management, and technical assistance.
- Increased visibility in the federal contracting market
- The possibility of receiving sole-source contracts.
In addition to these benefits, 8a certification provides greater opportunities for businesses to expand their customer base and build a larger market share. This can lead to increased profits, improved business relationships with customers, expanded brand recognition, and better growth potential for your business. Ultimately, 8a certification can open up new avenues of success for your business and help you reach the highest levels of success.
How To Become an 8a-Certified Contractor?
In order to reap the benefits of 8a certification, you must meet certain criteria related to your size, ownership, and other qualifications. 8a certification requirements include:
1. Small Business
A business is small if it is independently owned and operated, not dominant in its field of operation, and meets certain standards established by the SBA Administrator. These standards focus primarily on employee count or average annual receipts (for sole proprietorships) but also take into consideration other businesses within the same industry.
The specific amount varies by industry, but you can check if your company qualifies on its website. If your average revenue over the past three years doesn’t exceed the limit, then you should be eligible for small business benefits like tax breaks and reduced interest rates.
In order to become 8a certified, you must prove that your business is controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. This can include women, minorities, veterans, Native Americans, Alaskan Natives, Native Hawaiians, and people with disabilities.
3. US Citizenship
For 8a certification, potential contractors must be United States citizens or legal permanent residents. This means either having a green card or being born in the US. This process can take time, so it is important to start the application process as soon as possible in order to ensure that you are eligible before your application is due.
To become an 8a-certified contractor, you must have at least 51% ownership of the business. This ownership must be maintained throughout your 8a certification period; otherwise, your certification may be revoked or suspended. It is also important to note that a single individual must not just hold the owner; it must be shared among multiple people who are considered socially and economically disadvantaged.
5. First-Time Participant
If you’ve never been 8a certified before, your application will be subject to additional review. The SBA wants to ensure that first-time applicants truly understand the requirements of 8a certification and have taken steps to meet them. This review process can take some additional time, so it is important to factor that into your timeline when applying.
6. Good Character
The SBA wants to ensure that 8a-certified contractors are of good moral character and have a history of ethical business practices. To do this, they will review your past business dealings and may even request personal references from customers or clients who can vouch for your character.
7. Potentially Successful
Finally, applicants must also demonstrate that their business has the capacity to be successful and competitive in the open market. This means that you should have a well-thought-out business plan with realistic goals and objectives and an understanding of how you will achieve those goals.
How To Apply for 8a Certification
The application process can be tedious and frustrating, but it is possible to obtain 8a certification. However, before you begin the registration process, make sure that you have gathered all of the necessary governing documents for your business as well as any other required documents for 8a business certification. To apply for 8a certification, follow these steps:
- Review the eligibility requirements. These include being a small business (under 500 employees) and 51% owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. Also, check to see if your industry is eligible for certification.
- Gather all necessary documents to support your application, such as tax returns, financial statements, proof of ownership, etc.
- Submit the 8a Certification application with all required attachments through SBA’s e-filing system.
- Check your status online or by phone to ensure that your application was received and is being processed correctly.
- If necessary, participate in a face-to-face meeting with the SBA representative to discuss your application.
- Receive confirmation from the SBA that you are officially certified and can begin pursuing 8a contracts and opportunities.
By taking these steps, businesses can apply for 8a certification and start accessing various benefits of being an approved contractor by the Small Business Administration.
Valet Works #1 8a Contractors in Georgia
Valet Works is an 8(a) certified government and commercial builder that can help you complete your construction project with ease. Our team of experts is dedicated to providing the highest quality service and results while staying within budget and adhering to all applicable regulations.
Plus, our 8(a) status makes us eligible for special awards that can help you get the best value for your project. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you turn your construction dreams into reality. Let Valet Works be your trusted partner in construction!