Serving Small Businesses: Examining the Effectiveness of HUBZone Reforms
WASHINGTON – Today, the House Small Business Committee heard from small businesses within the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) program. Specifically, the Committee heard testimony on H.R. 3294, the “HUBZone Unification and Business Stability Act,” introduced by Ranking Member Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) and Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH).
“The program’s core mission is to bring economic hope, independence, jobs, and businesses to depressed areas marked by high unemployment and poverty. This is accomplished through the use of federal contracting preferences. H.R. 3294 helps the program achieve its mission objectives by providing legislative solutions to the challenges and weaknesses identified by small businesses and government watchdogs,” said Chairman Steve Chabot.
Because HUBZone area determinations frequently change, as often as annually and potentially several times per year, small businesses are unable to anticipate shifts in HUBZone area designations and do not know when they will occur.
“The uncertainty resulting from the annual designation updates not only impacts HUBZone companies, it negatively impacts the economic stability of the communities in which the company and employees reside. I am pleased to see that the Committee has taken steps to address this issue and others in H.R. 3294,” said Shirley Bailey, President and Board Chair of the HUBZone Contractors National Council in Washington, D.C.
“In my view, H.R. 3294 provides much needed stability to companies like mine. Clinton County, home of Wilmington, will lose its HUBZone designation in 2018. I certainly favor the approach in H.R. 3294 which freezes the current HUBZone eligibility maps until 2020. It would provide us with the transition time our firm needs while we decide how to keep our valued employees and finding a new office,” said Robert A. Schuerger, II, Principal and Attorney at Law at the Law Offices of Robert A. Schuerger Co., LPA in Columbus, OH.
“So my message to you echoes what we have heard from my fellow HUBZone firms. We need you to give HUBZone firms stability by extending the re-designation period as you have in HR 3294. This bill, which was introduced by both the Ranking Member and the Chairman, if enacted now, will freeze the HUBZone map until 2020 and then only be changed every 5 years. This will give communities and their businesses time to build resources to compete in a post HUBZone environment,” said Dennis DuFour, President of TDEC in Oakland, MD.
“Wovenware is a perfect example of a company that would greatly benefit from revisions to the current HUBZone program. Not only do we have the expertise, experience and drive to provide needed technology services that rival or exceed the capabilities of other U.S. companies, but securing more federal contracts would enable us to organically grow our business, employ more local workers and contribute to the revitalization of the economy in Puerto Rico,” said Carlos Melendez, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder at Wovenware in San Juan, P.R.