Small Contractors Initiative

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The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), through the Office of Surety Bond Guarantee, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), through the Office of Field Policy and Management, have collaborated to develop the Small Contractors Initiative Training Curriculum. 

This training curriculum is designed to provide the tools necessary for construction contractors to obtain surety bonds and working capital to better compete for federal contracting opportunities and work. After completing this course, contractors engaged in the building trades should have a better understanding of the minimum threshold requirements to secure SBA-backed bid, payment or performance bonds, as well as how to improve their financial, accounting, and business capacity to obtain a bond and how to use their bondable status to pursue a diverse set of federally-funded and assisted contracts.

This training curriculum is especially useful for contractors and paves pathways to opportunities that may be found within HUD’s EnVision Centers. Launched in December 2017 by Secretary Carson, EnVision Centers are based on four pillars of opportunity: economic empowerment, educational advancement, health and wellness, and character and leadership. The Economic Empowerment pillar is designed to improve the economic sustainability of individuals residing in HUD-assisted housing by empowering them with opportunities to improve their economic outlook through programs such as the Small Contractors Initiative, which will promote HUD’s Section 3 program requiring contractors receiving HUD financial assistance provide job training, employment, and contracting opportunities for low- and very low-income residents in connection with projects and activities in their communities.

Course Curriculum Training Material:
Bonding and Access to Capital

Training Modules

The eight training modules should be delivered in person as part of a multi-week course or referred to for purposes of self-directed learning. In between sessions, participants are encouraged to work on supplementary exercises and review additional materials for a better understanding of the requirements of surety bonding and federal contracting.

Supplementary Resources

Supplementary resources should be used in conjunction with the designated session. The resources include additional guidance on various topics, examples of documents needed throughout the business planning and bonding process, and tools and templates to organize information as companies' progress towards meeting the goal of bondability. The use of these documents is optional. They are designed to provide flexibility when designing and delivering your course.


African American man in hardhat

Session 1: Introduction to Bonding and Business Planning

This first session provides a general overview of the training. The first part provides background on what bonding is, why it is important, and how a small contractor can position itself to begin the process of getting bonding. The second part introduces the basic concepts involved in business planning. Both topics are covered in greater detail in later modules.

Supplementary Resources

Man and woman on construction site

Session 2: Requirements - Applicability and Reporting

This second session presents the basics of applicable federal requirements. The first part reviews how certain federal requirements apply to construction contractors. The second part focuses on understanding labor law-related standards and reporting systems.

Supplementary Resources

Desk with building blocks and hardhat

Session 3: Business Planning

Session 3 goes into detail about the business planning necessary for getting bonded. It covers what bonding agents require from businesses and compares that to what is required in standard business plans. By the end of session 3, contractors will understand how to draft a business plan.

Supplementary Resources

Papers calculator and laptop on desk

Session 4: Financial Management

To obtain bonding and access to capital, a contractor’s finances must be well managed. Session 4 explains the basics of accounting systems used by construction firms. The first part focuses on construction accounting methods and the second part focuses on reporting standards.

Supplementary Resources

Person signing paperwork

Session 5: Working Capital and Loan Application

Session 5 helps firms determine their working capital needs, understand where to go for a loan, and how best to approach lenders. It is based on assumptions from Session 3: Business Planning.

Supplementary Resources

Men shaking hands

Session 6: Contracting Opportunities

Contracting with federal agencies represents an opportunity for business growth for contractors. Session 6 explains the type of work available, explains when bonding is required, and how small contractors can best qualify for work that has federal funding. The first part focuses on finding the right opportunities. The second part explores improving prospects through partnering with other firms.

Supplementary Resources

Aerial view of three construction workers

Session 7: Bonding

Session 7 offers a more detailed review of the basics of bonding. The first part focuses on reviewing the key principles in construction bonding and the bonding application process. The second part focuses on completing a bond application and reporting standards.

Supplementary Resources

Construction manager looking at plans with team

Session 8: Wrap-Up

This concluding session offers guidance for realizing the plans firms developed throughout the course. In the first part, the focus is on how to show continuing capacity to perform. The second part will hone in on final preparations for pursuing bondable status.

Supplementary Resources