All small businesses should strive to be community leaders. As a locally owned, Paducah-headquartered engineering firm, we do everything we can to give back to our community, be it through our efforts to improve infrastructure and build meaningful projects for the area, the out-of-office programs our employees participate in, or even federally funded programs.
HUBZone is one such program that we’ve proudly been a part of for two years, and we’re happy to maintain the many requirements needed to sustain the certification.
HUBZone in a Nutshell
HUBZone, which stands for “Historically Underutilized Business Zone,” was created in 1998 to encourage federal agencies to earmark a portion of their budget for contracts with businesses located in underutilized urban and rural areas. While we may be a highly successful firm, it’s no secret that other local businesses in the region could always use a boost.
You might wonder how a program like HUBZone benefits the community. On the surface, it looks like a program meant to line our pockets with federal money. However, it’s important to remember that you can’t just throw your hat into the HUBZone ring; you must qualify for the program, keep that qualification, and work for those contracts that you do get. At the end of the day, we’re putting forth the hard work to qualify for the program so we can be eligible for important federal projects that we might otherwise not get. Doing this brings money into the community and employs our neighbors. It’s a win-win!
HUBZone Certification is a Challenge, but a Worthy One
As we said earlier, you can’t just tell the federal government that you’re willing to take HUBZone contracts. You need to prove yourself worthy by fulfilling the program’s stringent requirements. Craig Guess, our Business Development Lead, knows the work that goes into HUBZone eligibility.
“My part of fulfilling our HUBZone requirements is no small feat. Each application to the program requires multiple forms and legal documents of our firm’s structure as well as its ownership. Our paperwork is reviewed over weeks by the Small Business Administration, and there are often follow-ups that we must promptly respond to.”
“Beyond the paperwork, we also must ensure that 35% of our employees live in a region of the state that is HUBZone certified. The whole point of the program is to help the community, so you need to hire the community, too.”
Samantha Dennee, our Marketing Director, also leads the process.
“As can be expected with any government program, there’s a ton of red tape to get through. Yet we felt such a sense of both accomplishment and relief when we were first accepted. It took me as well as three of my coworkers to get through the paperwork and organize our records. It was a total team effort!”
We Want Our Business to be an Asset to the Community, HUBZone Helps
We asked Samantha and Craig, who are both huge proponents of the program, why HUBZone was such a unique asset to not just the firm but to the community. Craig explained how the program is a boon to regions that normally don’t see a lot of commerce.
“The entire point of the program is to ensure all federal agencies in the U.S. are awarding at least 3% of their contracts to certified HUBZone businesses every year. What this does is give individuals who live and work in these areas opportunities to not just make a living, but prosper. These are people that could easily get snubbed no matter their expertise because they’re not living in a hotbed, and these are contracts that could easily get gobbled up by huge, national firms. HUBZone spreads the wealth.”
Samantha was always drawn to the clear benefits that working locally gives to everyone.
“HUBZone evens the playing field for us. We’re a local company, and we work directly for our community. Bringing those federal dollars back to our community using local talent is a big reason why we pursued this designation.”
“Beyond that, it’s no secret there’s a talent shortage in the industry. We need all the people we can get. HUBZone ensures there’s an incentive for educated STEM graduates to stay in Kentucky. We don’t want you in Seattle, New York, or Austin. We want you here where you grew up. We want to have a job for you.”