WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today strongly applauded the committee’s approval of the HUBZone Investment Protection Act, S. 690, which would allow businesses in Garrett County to continue participating in a key Small Business Association (SBA) program.
The SBA HUBZone program provides preferential access in federal contracting opportunities to small companies that operate and employ people in Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZones), which have low household incomes and high unemployment. In the past, Garrett County qualified as a HUBZone, but more recently, when the SBA began basing the designation on new data sources, it looked as if Garrett County companies would no longer be allowed to participate in the program. Senator Cardin’s legislation would increase the amount of time (from three to seven years) that a geographic area may temporarily keep its status as a HUBZone when the area no longer meets the program’s criteria, essentially allowing the Garrett County companies greater time to shift their business strategies away from participation in the program and increasing the likelihood of their continued future survival.
“The edge in the federal procurement process provided by the SBA HUBZone program is vital to several Western Maryland communities that depend on the economic activity and good-paying jobs it provides. The program’s shifting eligibility requirements are certain to have a major impact on the local companies that depend on it, and these companies desperately need additional time to allow them to re-direct the future of their business away from the program,” said Senator Cardin. “This bill will give these small companies four more years of participation in the HUBZone program, which hopefully will allow them the time necessary to identify new paths to many more decades of success.”
The HUBZone Investment Protection Act is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators James Risch (R-Idaho), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Angus King (I-Maine), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.). Congressman John Delaney (D-Md.) has introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
“Across America, small businesses continue to be responsible for creating 2 of 3 new jobs, but this success is still is not reaching all corners of every state. The HUBZone program gives a boost to rural and urban regions that have been slow to realize economic recovery and growth,” said Senator Cardin. “HUBZone companies create jobs and communities like Maryland’s Garrett County and Baltimore City will benefit from this bipartisan effort to prevent the loss of small businesses at a time when these communities are still economically vulnerable. It is the smart thing to do for Maryland and for our nation.”