On November 12, Asmar, Schor & McKenna PLLC and The Barbour Group hosted a breakfast meeting and presentation regarding The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 8(a) Mentor Protégé and Joint Venture Programs. Anthony Ruiz, Assistant District Director for SBA, provided much needed insight regarding qualification prerequisites and important considerations in making proper submissions to the SBA. The event drew 50 large and small business representatives from around the DC metropolitan area.
The goal of the programs is to pair large construction firms with smaller 8(a) businesses to “enhance the capability of 8(a) Program Participants to be competitive, achieve entrepreneurial success, and contribute to the strength and vigor of our economy.” Ruiz gave a detailed overview of the guidelines and requirements mentors and protégés must meet and maintain in order to participate. He also answered difficult questions regarding the Program’s requirements and assured attendees that the SBA does its part by analyzing the particular circumstances of all applicant submissions on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, he discussed non-SBA mentor-protégé programs and pending changes to regulations that are expected to open up mentor-protégé opportunities to other small businesses.
At the end of his presentation Ruiz encouraged prospective applicants to know their rights and protect themselves by having attorneys review documents as a precursor to contract execution. Dennis Ehlers, a partner with Asmar, Schor & McKenna, piggybacked on Ruiz’s advice and laid out specifics on how legal counsel can guide both the mentor and protégé through the multi-step process and creation of agreements.
Chris Smith of The Barbour Group rounded out the program with his perspective from the surety’s point of view. He highlighted the value in creating a realistic financial plan ahead of time to include overhead costs on the front end to avoid surprises later. Smith also spoke to the importance of personally knowing the people on the other side of the business transaction before entering into a deal of any kind. He noted that building relationships plays a huge part in risk management.