Company included in Initiative for a Competitive Inner City Ranking; list to be published in Fortune

Newark, November 15, 2019 – The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) announced that Newark’s Sabre88 LLC has made the 2019 Inner City 100 list of the fastest-growing inner city businesses in America based on revenue growth.

The list was revealed at the 2019 ICIC National Conference in Boston on November 13. The full list is available on Fortune’s website here. Sabre88, led by CEO Robert Cottingham Jr., was ranked 52 based on its five-year growth rate of 113.82%. Its 2018 revenue was $27,730,226.

“It is a great honor to be included on the IC100 list,” said Robert Cottingham Jr. “It is gratifying and rewarding to be recognized alongside national leaders from so many industries.” 

ICIC is a national Boston-based nonprofit created by Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter in 1994 on the premise that under-resourced communities have vast, untapped potential, purchasing power and labor markets, which can only be realized by small business owners who are growing and creating high-quality jobs. Over the past 25 years, ICIC has built a foundation for inclusive economic prosperity, proving Porter’s theory time and again.

“Inner City 100 companies are forces of economic opportunity, optimism and transformation in their communities, and Sabre88 LLC is a shining example,” said ICIC CEO Steve Grossman.  “It leads the way in innovation, job creation and economic revitalization and it’s an honor to recognize the company’s leadership.  In addition to excellence in business, these pioneering entrepreneurs have demonstrated a deep commitment to and passion for their local communities, which significantly impacts the well-being of their local economies.”

ICIC’s Inner City 100 list has long celebrated entrepreneurship in under resourced communities. Since its inception, ICIC’s list has recognized over 1,000 companies. The 2019 winners employed 8,743 people as of 2018. The Inner City 100 program opens doors for other budding entrepreneurs from under resourced communities and stimulates inclusive economic prosperity through recognition, networking and learning.

2019 Inner City 100 by the numbers:

  • Average growth rate of 227% between 2014 and 2018
  • Represent 47 cities in 25 states
  • Created 4,299 new jobs in the last five years
    • 86% of those jobs are full-time
  • On average, 33% of employees live in same neighborhood as the company
  • Average company age:  17 years
  • Average 2018 revenue:  $12.2 million
  • 31% of companies are women-led
  • 38% of companies are minority-led
  • Represent 19 industries

2019 Inner City 100 and Sabre88:

This year, Sabre88 celebrates its sixth time being recognized on the ICIC’s Inner CIty 100 list. In fact, having been on the list 5+ times, Sabre88 is recognized in the ICIC’s Hall of Fame. This is no small feat, as Lauren Cataldo of the ICIC states, “being part of the Hall of Fame is truly an impressive achievement! We were so happy to recognize Sabre88 during the National Conference for its continued growth, and for being on the list six times!”

As of 2019, 1,023 Inner City 100 winners have been recognized. Of those winners, only 92 have been recognized as Hall of Fame winners.

To add perspective to the gravity of this achievement, only 46 companies have ever been recognized on the Inner City 100 list six times. Fewer than 4.5% of companies to make the list have done so six times as Sabre88 now has.

CEOs from the winning companies were invited to the 2019 ICIC National Conference. The event provided an opportunity to network and learn from current ICIC program participants, small business alumni and other high-growth small business owners. Past winners have reported connecting with multi-million-dollar investors as a result of appearing on the Inner City 100 list and attending the conference.

Inner City 100 Methodology: The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) defines inner cities as core urban areas with higher unemployment and poverty rates and lower median incomes than the surrounding metropolitan statistical areas. Every year, ICIC identifies, ranks, and awards the 100 fastest growing businesses located in America’s inner cities. In 2019, companies were ranked by revenue growth over the five-year period between 2014 and 2018.

About ICIC:

ICIC is a national nonprofit founded in 1994 by Harvard Business School professor Michael E. Porter. ICIC drives inclusive economic prosperity in under-resourced communities through innovative research and programs to create jobs, income and wealth for local residents.

Through its research on inner city economies, ICIC provides businesses, governments and investors with the most comprehensive and actionable information in the field about urban market opportunities. Now in its 25th year, the organization supports urban businesses through the Inner City 100, Inner City Capital Connections, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, and Santander Bank’s Cultivate Small Business program.

Learn more at or @icicorg

Government Agencies Need “Data Hunters” to Improve Performance

Faced with exponential data growth, stakeholders in both the public and private sectors struggle to effectively sort, analyze and leverage data to improve systems and services. In this new ecosystem of big data, many IT pros are turning to advanced analytics solutions, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, to help offload some of this data analysis burden and fundamentally change the way we interpret and use data. 

For the federal government, though, in order for these AI capabilities to be effectively implemented, agencies will require additional resources to locate the data most relevant to improving services and advancing missions. This is where data hunters can play a key role.

What is a data hunter?

Data hunters look for external sources of data that can be combined with internal information to generate new insights and optimize processes for the federal government. Often disguised under several different job titles including data acquisition specialists and data scouts, data hunters are those who have a firm grasp of agencies’ needs or challenges and then move to analyze that data accordingly.

Hunters use their knowledge of both the agency and the external environment to identify which new—often external—data sources could be helpful in addressing a particular issue. They then apply their practical skills to get the data and/or develop the new data streams and make them available to the organization, making them an upstream partner of data scientists and analysts.

Data hunters also play a critical role in data governance and management. Because of their role making data discoverable, data hunters can provide the feedback required to make sure that data is maintained securely, which is a primary concern for most government entities. They also need to be able to explain these issues to others to ensure that data quality is maintained. Finally, they need the skills to manipulate and manage data themselves to the required standards.

Data hunters are already an important part of many data enterprises in the private sector. A recent webinar from Forrester explored experience with data hunters among IT professionals and found that nearly one-third of those on the webinar said that their organization already had at least one data hunter role. Almost half (44%) said that they had a formal process for sourcing external data. Though this sample is not likely to be representative of the entire IT industry, it certainly demonstrates early adoption of the new job role in the private sector and is likely indicative that the trend will soon move to the federal government, if it has not already.

The Path Forward for Advanced Computing in Federal Government

Following the executive order on artificial intelligence and the launch of, the federal government is in a position to leverage cutting-edge technologies to keep pace with citizens’ needs. To effectively incorporate AI and ML technologies, however, agencies will require data hunters to look beyond their traditional boundaries for data insights.

Data hunting can also help solve challenges for federal benefits programs such as eligibility verification. The government can take a “recipient-centric” approach that incorporates contextual information from outside sources, in accordance with privacy regulations, to understand when changes in a recipient’s life may have altered their needs. Or in social services for example, child welfare caseworkers assigned to families with children at risk of abuse or neglect can make better-informed decisions when data external to the agency—like school records, birth records and law enforcement/emergency services—can be brought to bear to augment their internal data.

The ability to combine internal and external data to glean deeper insights has myriad applications in the public sector and will shape the way that the federal government’s services are delivered moving forward.

Author: Prasanna Haresh Patil


Sabre88 – Hats Off to the Veterans

In order to commemorate the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” which marked the end of World War I, the United States sets aside November 11th each year to honor those who have served their county. Veterans Day, previously known as “Armistice Day,” is a federal holiday reserved as a special time to express our gratitude for the sacrifice that was made by our brothers and sisters both past and present for our safety and freedom.

Sabre88 prides itself on holding firm to its core values, all of which our Veterans embody. From our Veterans we see unrivaled and inspirational teamwork and service to the community, we see cutting edge technology and efficient communication, and we see accountability. This time of year, all of us at Sabre88 tip our caps to those who have sacrificed everything so that we can continue to honor and serve our customers and each other. We would like to express our sincerest gratitude for the incredible men and women whose actions have protected our freedoms and kept us safe.

At this time, we are proud to honor our very own Sabre88 Veterans:

Charlie Cernat

Taylor Collins

Jim Hansel

Kathleen Hull

Howard Johnson

Robert Lightfoot

Lekeisha Mosley

Ron Oliver

Brian J. Schweikert

Daylyn Whitley

On behalf of all of us here at Sabre88, Thank You for Your Service. Our hats are off to you!

Author: Paul McVeigh


Tammy Duckworth and Jim Risch Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Promote Small Business Contracting Throughout the Federal Government

U.S Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Jim Risch (R-ID) introduced bipartisan legislation that would strengthen the Offices of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) which exist within each federal agency to maximize contracting opportunities for small businesses.

Since many federal agencies have failed to fully empower their OSDBUs and comply with the Small Business Act, the Small Business Contracting Accountability Act would require those non-compliant agencies to submit a report to the House and Senate Committees on Small Business and Entrepreneurship detailing why the agency is not compliant, as well as the specific actions that the agency will take to comply. Duckworth serves on the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship.

 “Small business are our nation’s job creators and primary investors in our local economies, which is why it’s critical they have a strong voice within our federal agencies,” Duckworth said. “I’m glad to be working with Senator Risch on this bipartisan bill that would help enforce existing law designed to enable small businesses across the country better access contracting opportunities with the federal government.”  

“Many Federal agencies are required by law to maximize opportunities to contract with America’s small businesses. When agency officials fail to comply with the law, they should have to answer to the authorizing committees,” said Risch. “I am proud to introduce the Small Business Contracting Accountability Act of 2019, a bipartisan, common-sense approach that will level the playing field for small businesses and hold Washington bureaucrats accountable for failing to meet reasonable standards.”

Under the Small Business Contracting Accountability Act, any non-compliant agency would have 120 days upon the enactment of this legislation to submit their report, or 120 days after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) submits another report on agency OSDBU compliance to the Committees, whichever is later. If GAO issues another of these reports, this legislation will also apply should the GAO find agencies non-compliant. GAO is an independent, nonpartisan agency that provides Congress and federal agencies with objective, reliable information.

Author: Prasanna Patil


Small Business Plays Major Role in Federal Contracting Business

Small business set-asides are contracts “set aside” by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) that must be awarded to small businesses, in order to help them compete for the $500 billion in goods and services the federal government buys from the private sector annually. Set-asides are awarded across a variety of industries, and disadvantaged businesses are given special consideration.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) works with federal agencies to help ensure that at least 23% of all prime government contracts are awarded to small businesses. This is one way that small businesses can compete with Amazon and the other giants of commerce. There are two main types of small business set-asides: competitive set-aside contracts, and sole-source set-aside contracts.

For competitive contracts, two or more businesses can submit a bit to take on the job. Generally (though not always), this happens automatically when the contract is under $150,000. Some of these contracts are only open to those who participate in SBA contracting assistance programs.

Sole-source contracts are awarded without a bidding process when only a single business can fulfill the contract requirements. These contracts are publicly posted, and potential vendors can still bid on them, assuming the business participates in the relevant contracting assistance programs.

In addition to the government-wide 23% set-aside goal, there are different goals for certain subsets of small businesses:

  • Small disadvantaged businesses (8a program) — 5%
  • Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) — 5%
  • Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses — 3%
  • Businesses in HUBZones (historically underutilized business zones) — 3%

Not all set-asides are for prime contracts (those directly with a government agency). There are also small business set-asides for subcontracts resulting from a prime contract. For example, if an automotive manufacturer gets a prime contract to build Army jeeps, they could subcontract with a small manufacturer to supply some of the parts. Any qualifying small business has the opportunity to win a set-aside contract. Doing so can open the door to future opportunities, and can be used as an excellent marketing tool for other jobs as well.

Author: Prasanna Patil


Women-Owned Businesses in Federal Contracts

The contracts awarded to Women-owned businesses was approx. $25 billion of total federal contract spending last year – but that figure accounts for less than 5% of total contracts awarded, according to data provided by American Express. The first step for women interested in winning this business is to expand their view of what goods and services the federal government might need. A recent research revealed that 15% of women-owned businesses in the U.S. are health care or social assistance oriented, and that 13% are in the professional, scientific and technical services category. This includes business types such as law or accounting offices, or even public relations. Those services are perfect matches for what the federal government buys. For example, many types of government offices – from Veterans Administration to Social Security facilities – are in need of day care centers.

There are two primary ways to benefit from government contracts, one is becoming a prime contractor. That means the government buys directly from you and pays you directly. That’s a big challenge, because there are legal responsibilities, there are reporting responsibilities.

A less burdensome approach is to become a subcontractor. An easier way to enter the marketplace is often as a subcontractor, where you are essentially working with another company who has the prime contract and then they subcontract with the women-owned firm to provide the services or products that they offer.

The federal government contracting market is one based on relationship-building.  Buyers want to know who you are. They want to trust that you can do what you say you can do. For women, that comes naturally in building strong, trusted relationships. Also, business owners need to be sure to educate themselves before going after contracts. Educating oneself about the financial demands of being a government contractor is an important step to take. Identifying our limitations, targeting doable businesses, building trust of contractors always helps to grow the business.

Author: Prasanna Patil 


5G: Effects on Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

Across the broad deployment of 5G mobile network systems could quicken the reception of augmented and virtual reality, although more extensive accessibility isn’t the main necessity for VR and AR to grow with 5G: convincing use cases are additionally required to make these technologies more reasonable and affordable, in spite of the fact that the option of 5G gives engineers a bigger canvas on which to design new experiences.

Why will 5G change the overview of VR and AR development?

The main objective of the 5G network is to provide more efficient, faster internet than 4G LTE and also to lower the latency faced by a typical 4G LTE network. 5G network is helpful for heavy-duty media such as 4K videos, 3D photos, 360° video streaming, etc. But the real benefits of 5G for VR and AR are not yet fully discovered. 5G networks have comparatively low latency than other networks which is a necessity in VR. There should be less response time between a user making a move and VR setup gives feedback of response.

How does 5G impact the availability of augmented and virtual reality applications?

Deployment of 5G network is still in initial stages and still has a lot of room to improvise. AR and VR currently are adding more complications to this. AR is commonly used on smartphones or tablets in museums to present additional content for exhibits, or for interior design, allowing shoppers to virtually place furniture in a room to see how it matches. With 5G, the ability to use AR in live, outdoor environments away from reliable wi-fi signals can influence the types of interactions and integrations that developers can build.

What needs to change in 5G for AR and VR applications to be successful?

The biggest concern right now is the cost of data. 4G LTE has certain cap limits for data usage and after that limit, it switches automatically to the lower version of network service. Typically, that cap limit is 22GB. AR and VR can exhaust that limit within several hours. In order to use AR and VR on a regular basis, we need truly unlimited data and obviously at cheap price.

Author: Prasanna Patil


Businesses Claiming to be “Native American”


Recently federal, state and local authorities are investigating and increasing scrutiny over minority contracting programs as a Times Investigation found that companies received more than 300 million in government contract based on claims by firms having Native American owners. The certification process was often spotty, with officials accepting flimsy documentation of Native American heritage. They even accepted unverified accounts that the contractors suffered discrimination because of their ethnicity. Additionally, many state/local officials told the Times that it did not need a proof of tribal enrollment when certifying Native American businesses as minority-owned.

Government responses have been slow going but increasing with states like California stripping minority status from a number of companies. In addition, “city officials in St. Louis said they have decertified five firms that received contracts set aside for minority-owned businesses. State contracting officials in Oklahoma and Kansas said they have removed the minority certification from two companies or intend to do so. As of this week, the two firms were still listed as certified in Kansas’ minority contractor database.” Also, the US Department of Transportation sent an official memo to check all companies classified as Native American owned the memo mentioned that a 2014 rule change required contractor claiming to be Native American must belong to a government recognized tribe. The memo stated that “It has come to the department’s attention that some certified DBE firms may have relied on the owner(s)’ membership in Indian tribes that are not federally or state-recognized,” the memo states. “It is important to the integrity of the DBE Program that only firms meeting all eligibility standards of the regulation, including social disadvantage, are allowed to take part in the program.” This new scrutiny marks a new phase of government intervention in the world of small businesses. However, this intervention is necessary to curb the unfair and fraudulent actions being taken by certain companies. Hopefully in the future companies that actually identify as one will be able to have a fair chance in obtaining a bid and those that try to use this shady tactic would receive the proper punishment.

Author: Larry Pan

Source Link:

Federal Government Contracts: A Million-Dollar Business!



The main concern for any small or medium-sized company is to find and retain customers. Many of them consider the federal government as their client, while others feel it is only a game of big companies. It is definitely not! Government approximately gives one-third of its total contracts to the small businesses. Even if the numbers seem low but it’s still worth millions!


How small business companies can get into this industry?

There are several steps to follow before entering into this industry:

  • Update your business plan: It is important and can be considered as the first major step before getting into this industry to updating the business plan. This includes defining the business type, identifying the goals that your company can or may serve, qualifying and organizing the resources your company have and finally marketing your company. This can be considered as a resume of your company.
  • NAICS code: It is necessary to identify the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code. This serves the purpose of what type of products or services your company provides and help you target agencies accordingly.
  • SBA Size Standard Tool: Using SBA Size Standard Tool to determine if your business qualifies for small business.
  • Sign up for business identification.
  • Register your company in Central Contractor Registry (CCR) in the System for Award Management (SAM)
  • Submit Online Representation and Certification Application (ORCA) through SAM.
  • Get a Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) code which is automatically created when you apply for CCR.
  • Start getting familiar with Federal Acquisition Register (FAR).
  • Use websites like (which will be transferred to by the end of 2019),,, etc. These are the websites where all the contracts posted by the government are visible and will help in getting business.


What are the benefits of making federal government agencies as a customer?

  • US federal government agencies buy more products or services than any other customer in the world. They roughly spend about $500 billion every year buying from companies of all the sizes and small companies have approximately one-third of this amount for them.
  • Any sized small business companies can sell goods or provide service to federal agencies. There are no such criteria for that. Even a single-person company can win a contract, obviously only if it satisfies all the requirements.
  • The federal government makes sure to pay these small business companies on time. Usually, they take not more than 15 days after submitting the invoices by the companies.


Technologies helpful for this industry

  • Websites: Different websites like,, (active from early 2020), etc. These are the platforms where one can find all the contracts released by the government.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool: This can be considered as the heart of this business. It is used to track every single opportunity the company has targeted. Making regular updates, recording every note or communication with a federal agency can be added to this CRM tool. There are several tools available in the market like Zoho CRM, HubSpot CRM, Salesforce, etc.



Companies have to keep in mind that this whole industry is a relationship-based market. Decision-makers do want to know from whom they are buying, why the services or products you provide are better or different from others and of course if you are budget-friendly. Delivering your services as needed and products on time always help you build strong and more profitable relationships and may increase your chances of winning more contracts.


Author: Prasanna Patil


GSA’s decision to replace FBO with SAM.GOV in November 2019

In the past, GSA has managed 10 different federal acquisition sites. On November 8,  2019 they will release a new service, (SAM). The new site, created by GSA’s IEA (Integrated Award Environment), will combine services from all 10 different acquisition sites including FBO, thereby retiring FBO from use. FBO, or Federal Business Opportunities, is a site used to provide information and updates about federal government awards. Although GSA hasn’t publicly stated that there have been any problems with the site, users have reported having difficulties navigating FBO.


SAM and FBO will have a lot of services in common, however SAM’s services are expected to be more refined. For example, will include a watchlist, a search agent and archival features, however the names of such features will be changed. What is referred to as a watchlist on FBO, will be referred to as a “follow” on SAM, so instead of contracting opportunities being put on a watchlist they will be followed. Search agents will be referred to as “saved search” and archived will be referred to as “inactive”. There will also be changes in the names of some federal roles. GSA has promised their new system will be more user friendly with features such as easy to use search filters, involving numbers, keywords and locations, to aid in finding opportunities. The new site will also have easy to use shortcuts such as the ability to save searches. The site has been created with hopes of facilitating the process of acquiring information about awards.


It is not completely known why GSA has decided to eliminate FBO, however speculators attribute the decision to bad user reviews. The federal news network has even described the site as, “hard to navigate, slow and complicated”, which is apparently known to all buyers and sellers that use the site. The new site will make life easier for government agencies and government contracting companies alike.


Author: Alison Cottingham