Sen. John F. Kerry, chairman of the Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, on Wednesday announced before the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce his introduction of legislation aimed at helping our nation's minority-owned small businesses more effectively compete for contracts in the federal marketplace.

The legislation, entitled the 8(a)Business Development (BD) and HUBZone Priority-Preference Act, will raise the sole-source threshold by $1 million for 8(a) sole-source contracts, on both goods and services contracts and manufacturing contracts. By raising this limit, the federal government will immediately be allowed to put more money into the hands of 8(a) firms. The bill will also maintain the super-preference for firms that are both 8(a)BD and HUBZone certified--which was intended by the original authorizing legislation and which the SBA has eliminated.

"If we look back at the past decade--where minority-owned businesses helped power the strongest economy in our history--the results are clear," said Kerry. "When we put politics aside to create a government that allows all of our citizens to live up to their maximum potential, we can create an environment where the true entrepreneurial spirit of our country can flourish.

"It is a reality that we still have a long way to go in creating equal opportunity in the business world. My legislation is designed to improve minority contracting programs at the SBA to put more money into the hands of minority-owned small businesses--knowing always that when minorities succeed, America succeeds."

The 8(a)BC and HUBZone Priority-Preference Act is co-sponsored by Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO), ranking member of the Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship. The legislation also raises the HUBZone sole-source threshold levels by $1 million, keeping these programs equal as called for in the legislation authorizing the HUBZone program.