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Sen. Shaheen Introduces Bill to Expand SBA's HUBZone Program
Published Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)

Yesterday, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), ranking member on the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, introduced the Invest in Rural Small Business Act, legislation intended to expand the geographic reach of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program.

The HUBZone program helps small businesses in urban and rural communities with low household incomes and high unemployment gain preferential access to federal contract opportunities, with the goal of helping the business expand and create jobs.

“In New Hampshire and across America, many small towns face a lack of economic investment and chronic underemployment," says Sen. Shaheen. "While the federal government spends billions of dollars buying from small businesses each year, not enough of those contracts are reaching rural entrepreneurs who would disproportionately benefit from the chance to compete,” 

Sen. Shaheen introduced the bill after being contacted by Costa Precision Manufacturing in Claremont, which had difficulty qualifying for the HUBZone program. The company has since become the only manufacturing company in NH to be a certified HUBZone business. (Read more here.)

Current law requires 3 percent of contracts be awarded annually to HUBZone firms, but in 2016, only 1.67 percent of federal contracting dollars were awarded to these businesses. Shaheen’s Invest in Rural Small Business Act aims to expand the pool of HUBZone eligible communities with the following measures:

  • Allow governors to directly petition SBA to designate additional rural areas as HUBZones.  Governors are limited to one application per year and must demonstrate the potential for job growth and investment, as well as local interest.
  • Reduce the number of a small firm’s employees required to live within a HUBZone from 35 to 33 percent.
  • Requires SBA’s HUBZone office to make a decision on a governor’s application within 60 days.

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