HUBZone (Historically Underutilized Business Zone) Program
The Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) program helps small businesses in urban and rural communities gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities. The federal government has a goal of awarding at least 3% of all dollars for federal prime contracts to HUBZone certified companies. Agencies may set-aside contracts for which only HUBZone companies are allowed to bid, or they may award sole-source contracts to HUBZone firms in an effort to meet that goal. HUBZone-certified contractors may also be eligible for a 10% price evaluation preference in some cases of full and open contract competitions and subcontracting opportunities. Click here to visit SBA’s HUBZone page.
HUBZone Program Requirements
To qualify for the program, a business (except tribally-owned concerns) must meet the following criteria. They must:
- be a small business by SBA standards.
- be owned and controlled at least 51% by U.S. citizens, or a Community Development Corporation, an agricultural cooperative, or an Indian tribe.
- have its principal office located within a “Historically Underutilized Business Zone,” which includes lands considered “Indian Country” and military facilities closed by the Base Realignment and Closure Act.
- have at least 35% of its employees residing in a HUBZone.
Firms owned by Indian Tribal Governments must either maintain a principal office in a HUBZone and ensure that 35% of its employees reside within a HUBZone or certify that at least 35% of its employees engaged in performing the contract will reside within an Indian reservation governed the Indian Tribal Government owners or reside within any HUBZone adjoining such Indian reservation.
First Steps toward Certification
Your local PTAC counselor can answer questions about – or help you with – any of the steps below. Click here to Find your PTAC today!
- Determine if your business is “small” by SBA standards: You can use the SBA’s Size Standard Tool if you’re not sure.
- Determine if your business is located in a HUBZone: The SBA website has an interactive map which can aide you in determining if your location qualifies as a HUBZone. However, HUBZone designations periodically change to incorporate new data sources. As of January 1, 2015, the SBA released revised HUBzone designations, under which a number of areas have been newly designated as HUBZones, but a greater number have been “re-designated” (meaning they have lost their HUBZone designation) until 2018. These changes are not yet reflected in the interactive map. Documents have been posted on the HUBZone map landing page which detail specific qualified census tracts. Indian Lands are automatically considered to be HUBZone as are certain facilities closed by the Base Realignment and Closure Act. Your PTAC Counselor can help confirm if your area is a HUBZone.
- Dun & Bradstreet Registration: Each headquarters and branch office must be registered so that it has its own Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number. Click here for the D&B portal for government contractors and grantees.
- System for Award Management (SAM) Registration: Your company must be registered in SAM, and the principal office address that is applying for HUBZone certification must be entered in the SAM profile associated with DUNS appropriate for its specific physical location. Click here to learn more about registering in SAM.
- Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS) profile: Make sure that you have completed SBA’s Supplemental page for the DSBS system, which reflects your firm’s certification status. It is recommended to keep your profiles (SAM and DSBS page) up to date through the SAM website.
- General Login System (GLS):you must complete registration in this system for each individual that can update information to your business. Once you have registered, then you must add your DUNS and EIN number(s) and obtain access to the HUBZone application module.
SBA HUBZone Webinars
Part I explains how the HUBZone areas are designated, Part II explains how affiliated businesses are treated,
how to keep the certification after an area loses HUBZone HUBZone joint ventures and contracting issues
designation, the regulatory requirements, and best practices
to obtain and maintain the certification.
PTAC HUBZone Successes
Pro-West & Associates, Inc. (PWA) is a woman-owned, HUBZone certified small business in northern Minnesota. Although viewed as a small business by larger city standards, the company of 23 staff is considered a major employer in the region. They became a PTAC client in 2005, taking advantage of PTAC sponsored seminars, bid matching, help with registrations, and one-on-one counseling to develop strategies for pursuing government opportunities. Most significant was assistance with the HUBZone certification; with this certification many doors were opened with large business. In 2013, PWA was recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as its 2013 Subcontractor of the Year, having been nominated for its “superior technical skills, proactive workload response, technology proficiency, cost efficacy and working relationships as a subcontractor”.
Annette Theroux, President & CEO of PWA, writes, “MN PTAC has played a large role in the last decade of PWA’s growth, including support during the nomination and award process for the SBA. PTAC’s coaching, webinars, classes and match making events supported the company’s efforts to win federal contracts and become a team member for several multi-year contracts for the EPA, Army Corps of Engineers and the USDA Forest Service.”
At no cost, your local PTAC can help you:
- Determine if you may be eligible to be certified as a HUBZone firm
- Obtain a DUNS number and register in SAM, DSBS and GLS
- Identify the information and documents you’ll need to apply for certification
- Understand what you must do to maintain your HUBZone certification
- Market your HUBZone certification
- Find contracting opportunities even if you don’t certify as a HUBZone!
Additional Resource Links
SBA Mini Webinar Primers:
- Eligibility and Certifcation Requirements
- Understanding HUBZone Designations
- Principal Office and 35% Employee Residency Requirements
- Understanding HUBZone Protests
HUBZone Office Hours – Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2-3 ET
SBA’s HUBZone office offers eligibility assistance on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2-3pm ET via toll free number: 1-888-858-2144 (access code 1875223#). Participants influence the topics by their questions. HUBZone staff facilitates the discussion by providing the answers and introducing specific topics as time allows. This format offers the opportunity to learn how to maintain eligibility to decrease the possibility of an initial application being declined or being decertified after obtaining the HUBZone certification. If you are seeking status information, need help in resolving technical difficulties, or need individualized answers from the HUBZone office you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also request an appointment by completing the HUBZone Analyst Appointment Form.