8(a) Business Development Program

  • Small Business Administration (SBA)
  • SBA Illinois District Office
  • 500 W. Madison St., Suite 1150
  • Phone: (312) 353-4528
  • Fax: (312) 886-5688
  • Email: Illinois.do@sba.gov
  • Website Link:

Purpose of the Program

To help provide a level playing field for small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged people or entities, the government limits competition for certain contracts to businesses that participate in the 8(a) Business Development program.

Disadvantaged businesses in the 8(a) program can:

  • Compete for set-aside and sole-source contracts in the program
  • Get a Business Opportunity Specialist to help navigate federal contracting
  • Form joint ventures with established businesses through the SBA’s mentor-protégé program
  • Receive management and technical assistance, including business training, counseling, marketing assistance, and high-level executive development

Who is Eligible

To qualify for the 8(a) program, businesses must: 

  • Be a small business
  • Not already have participated in the 8(a) program
  • Be at least 51 percent owned and controlled by U.S. citizens who are economically and socially disadvantaged
  • Be owned by someone whose personal net worth is $250,000 or less
  • Be owned by someone whose average adjusted gross income for three years is $250,000 or less
  • Be owned by someone with $4 million or less in assets
  • Have the owner manage day-to-day operations and also make long-term decisions
  • Have all its principals demonstrate good character
  • Show potential for success and be able to perform successfully on contracts

Application Process

Small businesses interested in the 8(a) program should contact the Illinois District Office to attend an informational session on the program.

Types of Assistance

Technical Assitance to Businesses