The HUBZone program fuels small business growth in historically underutilized business zones with a goal of awarding at least 3% of federal contract dollars to HUBZone-certified companies each year.
Program changes and improvements
SBA has made it easier for qualified small businesses to participate in the HUBZone program. In 2020, SBA implemented comprehensive changes to the program in three major areas.
We are improving the customer experience by:
- Providing faster certification decisions:
Applications will be processed within 60 days of a complete submission.
- Streamlining the application process:
A new calculator tool and revised checklists will make applying for the program even easier.
- Expanding early-engagement:
More assistance provided by our dedicated help desk, SBA District Offices, and select SBA partners (e.g., Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, SBDCs) will help applicants navigate the certification process more smoothly.
We are increasing program utilization by:
- Adding a new “Legacy” HUBZone employee provision:
Businesses may now count long-term HUBZone resident employees as permanent HUBZone residents, with proper documentation. This does not apply to firms or employees located in a Redesignated Area or Qualified Disaster Area.
- Strengthening recertification requirements:
Firms must now recertify annually, and once certified, will be eligible for all HUBZone contracts for which it qualifies as small, for a period of one year. Full documentation reviews will be required every three years.
- Simplifying contract verification:
A firm certified at the time of initial offer will generally be considered a HUBZone small business throughout the life of that contract, and a firm that receives a HUBZone contract must attempt to maintain 35% employment of HUBZone residents by demonstrating that it employs at least 20% HUBZone residents and is making substantive and documented efforts to hire HUBZone residents.
We are expanding and stabilizing the HUBZone footprint by:
- Creating predictability with HUBZone designations:
All HUBZone maps are frozen through June 30, 2023 and will now be updated every five years.
- Expanding into rural areas:
New Governor-designated HUBZone areas will reach more rural communities with high unemployment.
- Supporting long-term investment in communities:
Small businesses that purchase a building or enter a long-term lease (of 10 years or more) may maintain HUBZone eligibility for up to 10 years, even if at some point the office location no longer qualifies as a HUBZone. (Note: This does not apply to areas categorized as a “Redesignated Area.” or Qualified Disaster Area (QDA)).
For more information about the program improvements, view the SBA’s latest FAQs.
The government limits competition for certain contracts to businesses in historically underutilized business zones. It also gives preferential consideration to those businesses in full and open competition.
Joining the HUBZone program makes your business eligible to compete for the program’s set-aside contracts. HUBZone-certified businesses also get a 10% price evaluation preference in full and open contract competitions.
HUBZone-certified businesses can still compete for contract awards under other socio-economic programs they qualify for.
HUBZone program qualifications
To qualify for the HUBZone program, your business must:
- Be a small business according to SBA size standards
- Be at least 51% owned and controlled by U.S. citizens, a Community Development Corporation, an agricultural cooperative, an Alaska Native corporation, a Native Hawaiian organization, or an Indian tribe
- Have its principal office located in a HUBZone
- Have at least 35% of its employees living in a HUBZone
You can find the full qualification criteria in Title 13 Part 126 Subpart B of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). You can also get a preliminary assessment of whether you qualify at the SBA’s Certify website.
pply to get certified as a HUBZone small business
Before you can participate in the HUBZone program, you must be certified by SBA. Review the Top Tips for HUBZone Certification Tip Sheet and take these steps to get HUBZone certified.
- Make sure you have a SAM.gov account.
- Make sure you have a General Login System account.
- Apply for HUBZone certification using the General Login System. Log in, select “Access” and then “HUBZone” before completing the prompts.
- Check your email (including spam folder) for time-sensitive instructions to electronically verify your application within 2 business days.
- Submit all requested supporting documentation within three business days; your submission cannot be assigned for eligibility review until all required documents are submitted. Be prepared to respond to requests for additional information from the HUBZone team within 5 business days. Failure to do so may result in a decline or withdraw of your application.
- Check that your status was updated in DSBS and SAM. Within 48 hours of your approval, SBA will automatically update your status in DSBS and SAM.
Read the instructions from the General Login System carefully to make sure you provide all the necessary information.
NEW ELIGIBILITY WORKBOOK TOOL!
SBA is testing a new eligibility workbook tool designed to help applicants organize, calculate, and present information related to their principal office and employee residency. Filling out the workbook tool and uploading it as part of your application will help expedite SBA’s review of your HUBZone application. We will be collecting feedback about the tool via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wish to utilize the workbook, please follow the link above, download it in Excel to your computer, input the information using the instructions on the first tab, save your completed workbook to your computer, and upload it with the other required documents as part of your application submission. If you have questions about the workbook tool, reach out to email@example.com or join one of our open calls every Tuesday and Thursday from 2-3pm ET via toll free number: 208-391-5817; Conference ID: 278 449 067, where members of our team answer questions to help firms navigate the certification process.
New and improved Supporting Document Checklist.
You will be required to submit different supporting documentation based on your ownership structure.
Maintain HUBZone certification
You’ll need to recertify for the HUBZone program once a year. There is no limit to the length of time a business can participate as long as it continues to qualify. A program examination will be required every three years.
HUBZone businesses must notify SBA if their business is involved in a merger or acquisition or if while performing on a HUBZone contract drops below 20% HUBZone residency.
SBA may visit HUBZone businesses unannounced and conduct program examinations to verify the accuracy of any certification made or information provided as part of the HUBZone application or recertification process. For more information about continuing eligibility, view the Recertification Fact Sheet.
409 Third St. S.W. Suite 8800
Washington, DC 20416
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Get weekly information on eligibility assistance
Members of the HUBZone team answer questions on a weekly basis to help firms navigate the certification process.
Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2-3 p.m. E.T.
Find a local number, or call 208-391-5817 and enter Skype conference ID #278449067