If you were to fire up the ol’ Google and search for the phrase “hubzone map” guess what you would get—not one but two links that purport to be the Small Business Administration’s Historically Underutilized Business Development Zone (HUBZone) program map.
Is there any indication which is the correct map? No. Might one return false results? Yes.
Currently, there are two active web addresses that lead to a HUBZone map. They are the second and third search results on Google right after a sponsored ad. Both lead to a map of the United States. Both have an SBA logo in the top left corner. Both are .gov domains. Both give the user the option to enter a street address. Both return results that appear to show whether an address is in a qualified HUBZone or not.
Are they both reliable? No.
Take our office, for example. We’re located in Lawrence, Kansas, a mile or so from Allen Fieldhouse, on the corner of West 9th Street and Kentucky Street. If you put our address in to either map, the result says qualified HUBZone.
But across the street from us is the Central Bank of the Midwest. It’s at 300 W. 9th Street. If you put that address into the map.sba search bar, the result comes back: “YES, this location is HUBZone Qualified.” The map shows a pin in an orange tract of land, which according to the legend means “Qualified Census Tract.”
If you put the same address in to the maps.certify search it says: “Qualified HUBZone until Dec 31, 2021“. Emphasis, mine.
As Larry David might say, pretty, pretty, pretty big difference there.
So what’s going on? Not a clue.
From context, the maps.certify.sba.gov map would seem to be the official site. Very small at the top of the website is an American flag with the words “An official website of the United States government” next to it. The other map has no such message. Also, the maps.certify version is obviously the newer of the two, with a better user interface. Most importantly, it’s the map linked on the SBA’s HUBZone Program web page.
So what’s the other one? A relic, seemingly. According to a 2017 press release, the SBA announced it was launching a new map after partnering with the U.S. Digital Service. Apparently, it did not take the old one down.
Why did it not deactivate or decommission the other? No idea. Seems as though the least SBA could do is run a banner on the old one letting anyone who might accidentally come across it via Google know that it is out of date and unofficial.
For now, folks who happen to click on the third result instead of the second, might find themselves with bad information and little recourse. Working with the SBA, like other parts of the government, means being wary of what resources are online and making sure you are viewing the right resource.