Today, we continue our week-long look into the four different programs offered by the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) to promote small business contracting by examining The Historically Underutilized Business Program (or “HUBZone”). Earlier this week, we covered the 8(a) Program and the SBA and VA programs for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.
Unlike the other programs we’ll examine this week – The HUBZone Program primarily looks not at “who” owns and controls the small business concern, but “where” the business’s principal office is located. Specifically, to participate in the Program, your business must operate in an region classified as economically disadvantaged based on conditions identified by the government, such as poverty and high unemployment rates.
The term “principal office” is not up for much debate. The SBA defines your principal office as “the location where the greatest number of the concern’s employees at any one location perform their work.” But – a note for those readers in the construction industry – this definition excludes yours employees who perform at different on-site job locations to fulfill specific contract obligations.
Once you’ve determined where your principal office is located, you can check the SBA’s HUBZone map to see whether your location qualifies for participation in the Program. If so (and if you meet all other eligibility criteria, such as having 35% of your employees also reside in a HUBZone) you can move on to the certification process (again through the SBA website). Self-certification is not an option for HUBZone participation.
As with the other SBA small business programs we’ve discussed, the primary benefit of HUBZone certification is the opportunity to compete for set-aside contracts reserved exclusively for performance by Program participants. Importantly, as long as your business continues to meet all of the requirements (and you stay current with all required re-certification obligations), your business can take advantage of those contracting opportunities indefinitely.
Please be sure to check back tomorrow, as I close out this Blog series with a look at the SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business Program.