New HUBZone Program Guidance Sheds Light on Principal Office Long-Term Investment Rules

The HUBZone Program has released updated FAQs that provide guidance on important HUBZone rules and how SBA will be interpreting them. While these don’t have the authority of a regulation, the new guidance shows how SBA will come down on certain HUBZone questions that aren’t answered in the regulations. These include the details on long-term investment in a principal office as well as a few other rules. Read on for how SBA will interpret these rules.

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SBA Provides Flexibility for HUBZone Compliance

We’ve written quite a few posts about how contractors can adapt and deal with the changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some small businesses federal contractors, however, face unique challenges. This is particularly true of participants in the HUBZone Program. Specifically, while the OMB has encouraged agencies to allow contractor employees to telework, how will this affect HUBZone entities, where the location of their employees is key to maintaining their HUBZone status?

Well, the SBA has the answer in some recent guidance, and it’s something we could all probably do with a little more of–flexibility. Flexibility, in this case, means that SBA realizes complying with the principal office and employee residency requirements may be tough during a time when all people are encouraged to telework. The flexibility applies to a few of the HUBZone rules.

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SBA Issues Guidance on New HUBZone Rules

Can a business seeking HUBZone status give employees bonuses or higher wages to entice them to live in a HUBZone?

According to new guidance published by the U.S. Small Business Administration, yes. But that’s not the only question addressed in the guidance.

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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 colleagues are 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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HUBZone Fraud: $250,000 Settlement In “Virtual Office” Case

A small business and its owner have agreed to pay $250,000 to resolve HUBZone fraud allegations, including a claim that the company’s HUBZone office was a “virtual” location where no employees actually worked.

According to a Department of Justice press release, Air Ideal, Inc. and its majority owner have also agreed to pay the government five percent of the company’s gross revenues over the next five years.

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HUBZone Fraud: Government Alleges “Virtual Office” Scheme

A HUBZone contractor has been accused of HUBZone program fraud for allegedly falsely claiming to be located in a HUBZone, when in fact the office in question was a “virtual office” where no employees worked.

According to a Department of Justice press release, the contractor not only misrepresented its principal office location, but submitted a fabricated lease to the SBA as part of its HUBZone application.

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