WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, have secured a provision in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to extend federal HUBZone eligibility to small businesses in Garrett County and in other HUBZone areas around Maryland. The provision, Senate Amendment 510, mirrors the HUBZone Investment Protection Act (S. 690), which was authored by Cardin and cosponsored by Van Hollen.
“This is a win for Garrett County and will provide a much-needed boost of economic activity and good-paying jobs in the region. The edge in the federal procurement process provided by the SBA HUBZone program is vital to several Maryland communities,” said Senator Cardin. “HUBZone companies create jobs and communities like Garrett County, Baltimore City and Dorchester County 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.”
“Our economy works best when every community has access to good paying jobs,” said Senator Van Hollen. “HUBZones help boost new investments in towns and cities that have lost manufacturing jobs. For Western Maryland, the need to preserve these HUBZones to spur additional investments is urgent. This legislation will ensure these communities get the boost they need to grow more jobs and improve their economies.”
The Historically Underutilized Business Zone Empowerment Contracting (HUBZone) program was created in 1997 with the goal of using the federal contracting process to incentivize business growth and job creation in distressed communities. The program provides participating small businesses located in areas with low income, high poverty rates, or high unemployment rates with contracting opportunities in the form of set-asides, sole-source awards, and price-evaluation preferences and it is the only small business program that focuses federal contracting dollars on generating jobs, increasing investment and decreasing unemployment in our nation’s most distressed areas.
The Cardin-Van Hollen amendment (#510) increases the current program off-ramp from three years to seven years to allow the HUBZone businesses and communities to prepare and plan for the loss of the preferential status. Absent congressional action, Garrett County would lose its HUBZone status in 2018 and the 11 HUBZone certified businesses in the County – which employ more than 320 people – would be at risk.
“On behalf of the business community of Garrett County, thank you Senators Cardin and Van Hollen,” said Nicole Christian, Garrett County Chamber President & CEO. “This legislation is critically important for our community and we greatly appreciate the senators’ support and dedication to protecting jobs and retaining businesses in Garrett County and Maryland.”