WV small business HUBZone certifications on upswing
HUNTINGTON — The number of West Virginia small businesses achieving federal “HUBZone” certification has increased significantly over the past several months, according to George Murray, deputy director of the West Virginia District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
West Virginia HUBZone, or Historically Underutilized Business Zone, certifications have more than doubled in the past 16 months, Murray said in a news release from the Robert C. Byrd Institute in Huntington.
According to the West Virginia District Office of the SBA, the state currently has 38 HUBZone certified businesses. The program began in May 1999 and in June the first business was certified in the state.
To further increase HUBZone participation in West Virginia, RCBI and the SBA will sponsor the HUBZone Road Tour Aug. 13-17 in counties across the state.
On Aug. 13 the tour will be in Wyoming County at Southern West Virginia Community & Technical College at 128 College Drive in Saulsville. On Aug. 14, the tour will come to Braxton County at the Days Inn at 350 Days Drive in Sutton.
The next stop will be on Aug. 15 in Harrison County at RCBI at 2400 East Benedum Industrial Drive in Bridgeport. On Aug. 16 the tour will be in Hardy County at Eastern West Virginia Community & Technical College at 316 Eastern Drive, Room 104B, in Moorefield.
The final stop will be on Aug. 17 in Pocahontas County at Pocahontas County Parks and Recreation Building at 320 9th Street in Marlinton.
HUBZone certification provides small businesses an advantage when bidding on federal government contracts. HUB-Zone-certified small businesses qualify for the program’s set-aside contracts and receive a 10 percent price evaluation preference when competing for open contracts, according to the release.
QUALIFICATIONS TO BE HUBZONE ELIGIBLE:
• Be a small business as defined by the SBA.
• Be at least 51 percent owned and controlled by U.S. citizens, a community development corporation, agricultural cooperative or a Native American tribe.
• Have the firm’s principal office (location with the greatest number of employees) in an officially designated HUBZone area and at least 35 percent of employees must live in HUBZones.
The SBA is the federal agency that administers the HUBZone program. Historically, West Virginia has one of the lowest rates of HUBZone participation.
“By working with the Robert C. Byrd Institute through this pilot program, our goal is to shorten the length of time it takes a small business to become HUBZone certified,” Murray said. “The first small business through the program received its certification in two weeks; prior to this program we were seeing an average turnaround time of five months.”
RCBFs Accelerate Forward — West Virginia’s EDA University Center has joined with the SBA in West Virginia to promote HUBZone statewide through marketing campaigns, social media and a series of workshops and one-on-one outreach to educate small business owners about the program’s benefits and how to apply.
“Government contracting is another way for West Virginia small businesses to expand, diversify and create jobs,” said Charlotte Weber, RCBI director and CEO. “We’re proud to partner with the SBA to introduce and connect West Virginians to rewarding HUBZone opportunities.”
To register for any of these events, go to www.rcbi.org/go/hub. To determine whether your business is located in a HUBZone, visit www.maps.certify.sba.gov/hubzone/map. For more info about the program, contact Jane Bostic, director of RCBFs Accelerate Forward initiative, at email@example.com or 304-781-1681. RCBFs Accelerate Forward is funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration.