Wisconsin Veteran Business Owners Seek Action

Veteran business owners in Wisconsin say the state’s Supplier Diversity Program needs oversight.

Source : SBA

November 12, 2021

Author : Alex Bustillos

The Wisconsin State Legislature created the Supplier Diversity Program and in 2014 set a goal of awarding one percent of state contracts to veteran-owned businesses.

That goal has never been met.

Back in 1983, the Legislature created the program for minority-owned businesses, who were to be awarded five percent of state contracts every year. Women-owned businesses were added to the program in 2006 but have, like veteran-owned businesses, never seen the goal met.

For minority-owned businesses the situation is not much better, since the goal has only been met four times in 38 years, Wisconsin Public Radio reports.

"I think the first thing they need to do is audit the program and audit the participation and report correctly because right now what they're doing is lumping us together with the mbe's (minority-business enterprises) and they aren't splitting it out," veteran Tom Middleton, president of Middleton Construction Consulting, LLC told the outlet.

“They keep sticking their head in the sand and saying, 'Well, we're making 5 or 6 percent.' But the reality is they are making one-tenth of 1 percent in the [disabled veteran business] program,” he added.

He said that he believes the state is measuring the success of the program based on how many companies register as veteran-owned, not how many veteran-owned companies actually receive state contracts.

Wisconsin Public Radio says they reached out to every single state lawmaker through leadership for comment on the Supplier Diversity Program, but shockingly, none responded.

Meanwhile, veteran business owners are charged a $150 fee to remain certified in the program for three years. They also say that with the 2014 law that created the veteran business certification they were shut out from state contracts as “legislators gave a preference to larger general contractors with more resources to win bids, a move that shut out smaller subcontractors.”

Veteran business owners that spoke to the outlet went so far as even offering to volunteer as part of a task force that would help reform the Supplier Diversity Program..

Category : Disabled Veteran Businesses Veteran Business Disparity Studies Diversity Outreach State Government Procurement

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