Each year, companies graduate from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Business Development 8(a) Program, with the potential and capabilities to grow into successful businesses.
SBA’s 8(a) Program helps firms develop and grow through one-on-one counseling, training workshops, management and technical guidance. It also provides access to government contracting opportunities, allowing the companies to become solid competitors in the federal marketplace. In fiscal year 2018, small businesses received more than $17.6 billion in 8(a) contract dollars.
Enter The ELOCEN Group, which is the first name spelled backwards of the owner, Necole Parker Green, who started the company in her parent’s basement in 2006. The ELOCEN Group is a woman- and minority-owned construction company specializing in construction, consulting and design services for federal and commercial clients.
One of the biggest challenges for Necole was gaining equal respect and access to the same opportunities as her male counterparts in the construction industry. Necole entered the SBA’s 8(a) Program in 2009. While in the program, Necole said, “We’ve been able to regularly exceed targeted goals, consistently increase staffing year over year, and leverage relationships established throughout our engagement with SBA.”
The SBA certifies socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses under its nine-year 8(a) Business Development Program. Individuals who are members of certain minority groups are presumed socially disadvantaged. These groups include African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Pacific Americans and Subcontinent Asian Americans. Firms owned by Alaska Native Corporations, Indian Tribes, Native Hawaiian Organizations, and Community Development Corporations are also eligible to participate in the program.
Necole has since graduated from the 8(a) Program and believes it was instrumental to her growth. The proof is in the pudding. The ELOCEN Group has received more than $140 million in federal contracts throughout its tenure in the 8(a) Program.
Necole has now established a joint venture agreement with the SBA’s All Small Mentor-Protégé Program and has partnered with large prime contractors on other federal contracts. In 2015, the SBA named The ELOCEN Group DC’s Small Business Person of the Year.
Necole has been an American Express Summit for Success ambassador at their annual events, providing business insight to entrepreneurs on becoming a trusted government contractor, growing to scale and successfully navigating the complexities of working with large firms.
Today, The ELOCEN Group’s core values continue to include operating with uncompromising integrity, showing a commitment to building synergistic “win-win” relationships, offering unparalleled excellence in service through partner collaborations, and melding growth opportunities into demonstrated best practices.
Small businesses interested in the 8(a) Program should contact their local SBA district office to attend an informational session.
More information and an online 8(a) application are available at: sba.gov/8abd/.