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Time to revisit one of the original economic stimulus programs?

May 10, 2010

Ever heard of the Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program? The US Small Business Administration (SBA) HUBZone program is a place-based, race neutral program, created in 1997, to help stimulate the economy in areas with high unemployment or lower-than-average wages, by providing federal contracting preferences to businesses that are located in these areas and hire people who live in these areas.


If your firm:

  • is a small business, and
  • its principal office is located in a HUBZone, and
  • 35% or more of its employees live in a HUBZone, and
  • it is owned and controlled at least 51% by US citizens

it may qualify.


Albany, Fremont, Hot Springs, Lincoln, Niobrara, and Uinta counties and the Wind River Indian Reservation qualify; a number of additional census tracts are eligible, too. To find out if your business is located in a HUBZone, check the SBA’s HUBZone map.


What's the advantage? A HUBZone certification may give you a competitive advantage in obtaining federal contracts. The government’s goal is for 3% of its contract dollars to go to HUBZone firms. When you consider that the federal government spent more than $500 billion on contracts in fiscal year 2009, this translates to more than $15 billion in opportunities last year alone! Contracting officers want to meet this goal, so if they conduct market research and find that two or more HUBZone firms are likely to submit offers for a particular opportunity, they may set it aside. This effectively reduces the competitive pool of firms eligible to bid on the opportunity to just HUBZone-certified firms. It seems counter-intuitive, but actually, it's better if you and your competitors are all HUBZone certified (if you all qualify) because more HUBZone firms that can do the work can result in more work set aside for HUBZone firms. If you are a subcontractor, getting certified can help the primes you are working for reach their goals, too!


Three steps to applying for HUBZone certification:

  1. First, make sure your firm is registered in the Central Contractor Registration database, and that all your information is updated. (Note: if getting registered in CCR wasn't confusing, the Wyoming Entrepreneur PTAC probably wouldn't be here to help you with it!)
  2. Second, assemble your supporting documentation. You will need this information to complete your application.
  3. Third, complete the online HUBZone application.


Once the SBA reviews your initial application, they will ask you to submit your supporting documentation, and make a decision. How long will it take? I'll be straight with you, it's currently taking several months, but the SBA is working hard to decrease HUBZone application processing times. Also, there may be some potential advantages to applying now, before new census data potentially redefine qualified areas.


Sound complicated? The Wyoming Entrepreneur PTAC provides free, confidential assistance with HUBZone applications and other aspects of government contracting!


Amy Lea


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