SBA modifies HUBZone program to foster job growth

The Small Business Administration is changing its Historically Underutilized Business program to help small businesses create more jobs in economically distressed communities, the agency said today.

Under recent legislation, a small business applying for HUBZone certification no longer needs to be owned exclusively by U.S. citizens. The level of required ownership by U.S. citizens is now 51 percent.

In addition, agricultural cooperatives can now participate in the HUBZone program along with community development corporations and Indian tribes.

Tribally owned small businesses also have new options regarding the HUBZone employment requirement. A tribal business can choose to meet the 35 percent residency at the time of application or wait until the firm actually receives a HUBZone contract. If the latter option is chosen, the business will be required to ensure that 35 percent of those working on the contract reside in a reservation area controlled by the tribe or an adjoining HUBZone.

Another change permits a rural country to qualify for HUBZone status if its local unemployment rate is high relative to either the state's annualized unemployment rate or the national employment rate. Only comparison against the state level was permitted before.

Finally, small businesses that either were removed or are facing removal from the HUBZone program, because the areas where they are located are no longer considered economically distressed, can continue to participate in the HUBZone Program until the results of the next census, scheduled for 2010, are analyzed and released to the public.

The HUBZone program was created in 1997 and currently has more than 11,000 participants.

Small businesses can complete an online application for the program, determine whether they are located in the HUBZone, apply for HUBZone certification and check on the status of an application at www.sba.gov/hubzone.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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