There are countless business zones in the United States with historic significance and small business opportunities. To help protect these areas and encourage small business growth, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) designation, currently used by more than 6,700 firms.
Learn about the eligibility requirements and benefits of this program today, and see if seeking certification is the right move for your federal contracting firm as you do business with Uncle Sam.
This federal designation comes with several requirements, some unique to HUBZone and others required for any small business to receive an SBA certification. Here are the key requirements to qualify:
- Comply with SBA size standards for a small business.
- Have at least 51% control of the company by U.S. citizens, Native Hawaiian organizations, Alaska Native corporations, agricultural cooperatives, Community Development Corporations, or Indian tribes.
- Have at least 35% of employees living in a qualifying HUBZone area.
- Have the main business location in a qualifying area.
These requirements ensure that businesses and business owners in disadvantaged and underutilized areas have access to contracts and can compete with other federal contractors. This program is designed to promote businesses already operating in underutilized areas and encourage new firms to select a participating zone.
Benefits of HUBZone Designation
Consider joining this program to receive set-aside contracts, price evaluation preferences, and other key benefits. Here are some ways your firm can benefit if you qualify and are certified for HUBZone designation:
- At least 3% of all federal contracts are set aside for participating firms.
- Firms also receive a 10% price evaluation preference for any full and open contract competitions.
- The designation is compatible with other SBA programs.
Your firm will also gain visibility as part of your SBA certification. With certification, you can use it as part of your federal branding strategy to stand out when seeking new contracts.
HUBZone in Rural Areas
In the past, many participating areas were in historic areas of cities around the nation. As part of the new government-designated areas, participating rural areas are now considered historically underutilized business zones. This approach opens up opportunities for rural areas with high levels of unemployment to receive federal set-asides and other benefits.
How to Use HUBZone Maps
Both your primary business location and at least 35% of your employees need to reside in a participating area. SBA offers a HUBZone Mapping Application to help you determine whether you qualify.
While you can access maps of areas around the country, the easiest way to find out if your business is eligible is to use the application and enter an address in the search bar. Once you enter the address in the Mapping Application, you’ll see a qualification status on a printable results page. Perform this search of your office and your employees’ home addresses to gather the necessary data.
To help create predictability in the program and assist new businesses, the SBA has frozen all HUBZone maps until June 30, 2023. After that date, the maps will be updated every five years.
Steps to Certify Your Small Business
Applying to SBA programs can be difficult, with several key steps and important documents to fill out accurately before your application is reviewed.
With Rafael Marrero & Company, you can receive the consulting assistance you need to navigate this process. See how a skilled business-to-government professional can help you follow these steps:
- Become SAM registered.
- Create a General Login System account.
- Start the HUBZone certification application and be sure to include copies of the relevant Mapping Application results pages.
- Follow the time-sensitive instructions to verify your application within two business days of receipt.
- Comply with any additional information requests.
If your original application doesn’t include the required information, the process could take weeks as you sort through documents, provide additional details, and attempt to comply with all information requests. Thankfully, there are professionals who can help you understand the process and review your applications for you.
Additional SBA Certifications
HUBZone is a competitive program that allows you to compete for federal contracting dollars. It’s not, however, the only program available for small businesses. See if you qualify for other programs to increase your set-aside opportunities and grow your small business. Here are the other SBA programs to consider:
- SBA 8(a): This program offers economically disadvantaged businesses set-asides, joint venture opportunities, and more.
- VOSB and SDVOSB: Veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses may qualify for set-asides and simplified acquisition threshold opportunities.
- EDWOSB: Economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses can increase their visibility and apply for set-asides to compete in the federal marketplace.
Other programs can also help your small business gain visibility and lucrative contracts. One such program, the Department of Transportation Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DOT DBE) program, is available for disadvantaged firms in construction, communications, engineering, public relations, and related industries. It’s important to pursue every opportunity you qualify for to make the most of your firm’s capabilities.
Certify Your Small Business With the Help of Rafael Marrero
Whether you’re just starting doing business with Uncle Sam or are a long-time federal contractor, promote your firm and support your community with HUBZone certification. Contact us at Rafael Marrero & Company to request more information and receive application assistance for this and other competitive SBA certifications.