HUBZone Program: SBA’s Proposed Rule Clears Up Some Common Misconceptions

Last week, the SBA released a proposal to overhaul the HUBZone Program.  The proposed rule will make major changes to almost all aspects of the HUBZone Program, and my colleague Ian Patterson is covering those changes in a series of two posts on SmallGovCon.

But while the proposed HUBZone Program rule changes will garner most of the headlines, the SBA also has used the proposed rule as an opportunity to clear up a few very common HUBZone Program misconceptions–such as the notion that so-called “jobsite employees” don’t count toward the 35% HUBZone residency requirement.

Here are three of the most important clarifications SBA offered in the proposed HUBZone rule.

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5 Things You Should Know: HUBZone Program (The Basics)

5 Things has previously discussed 8(a) Program basics and eligibility requirements. But the 8(a) Program isn’t the only socioeconomic program benefiting small businesses. In this post, we’ll begin exploring another crucial program for small businesses: the Historically Underutilized Business Zone—or HUBZone—program.

Here are five things you should know about the HUBZone program.

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SBA Considering 8(a), HUBZone Changes

The SBA is considering making changes to improve its socioeconomic programs–particularly the 8(a) and HUBZone Programs.

In a talk yesterday at the 2017 Navy Gold Coast Procurement Conference, Robb Wong, the SBA’s recently-appointed Associate Administrator, Office of Government Contracting and Business Development, discussed some of the big changes the SBA is considering.  And to my ears, at least, a lot of what Mr. Wong said makes good sense.

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GovCon Voices: Let’s Amend The HUBZone 35% Requirement

The HUBZone contracting program, while well-intended to provide economic and employment opportunities in otherwise low income, high unemployment areas, must nonetheless connect HUBZone firms with government contracts, the overwhelming majority of which are not located within a HUBZone.

If HUBZone firms are to experience growth, they will need to utilize the local labor force in the area where the contract is to be performed, in addition to utilizing the labor force residing in their HUBZone to perform indirect labor functions.  As a company’s direct labor force grows, their indirect labor will also grow, producing more employment opportunities within the HUBZone, thereby fulfilling an intent of the program.

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HUBZone Program: Employees Must Reside In HUBZones On Award Date

In order for an employee to count as a HUBZone resident for purposes of a specific HUBZone contract, the employee must reside in an officially designated HUBZone on the contract award date.

A recent decision of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims is a cautionary tale for HUBZone companies, which are responsible for ensuring that the 35% employee residency requirement is met on the award date.

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HUBZone Program: Court Decision Highlights “Fracture” Policy

The SBA will not aggregate a HUBZone applicant’s employees with the employees of the applicant’s affiliates for purposes of determining compliance with the “35% rule,” but only if the SBA determines that there is a “clear line of fracture” between the HUBZone applicant and its affiliates.

A recent decision by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims highlights an important SBA policy, which isn’t codified in the SBA’s regulations but can have a tremendous impact on HUBZone Program eligibility.

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HUBZone Certifications Averaging 116 Days–And Other Tidbits From The SBA OIG HUBZone Report

HUBZone certifications are averaging 116 days from the date of application to the date of certification, according to a fascinating SBA Office of Inspector General Report on the HUBZone certification process.  The 116-day time frame is considerably longer than the SBA’s goal of 90 days.  However, in a majority of cases, the SBA does complete the certification process within 90 days of receiving all of the applicant’s supporting documentation.

In addition to an overview of the time frames associated with a HUBZone certification (a question I am often asked), the SBA OIG report concludes that the SBA’s HUBZone application procedures need updating–and that three potentially ineligible firms were certified in 2012.

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