By: Susan VanEpps
Have you heard? The Small Business Administration’s January 2013 HUBZone designation for part of Leesburg is making quite a stir in the local business community. Designations are made to “historically underutilized business” areas as measured by household income, and allow for small businesses within the zone to receive set-asides and 10 percent price preferences when vying for federal contracts.
To qualify, companies must meet the SBA’s definition of a small business, must have their primary office in a HUBZone, must be 51 percent American-owned and have 35 percent of its employees living in a HUBZone.
The Town of Leesburg, the Loudoun Small Business Center, the Mason Enterprise Center and Loudoun County Economic Development have worked together to help companies interesting in earning the federal certification. Doug Parsons, the economic development business development manager for the Town of Leesburg, says a spring event organized by the SBDC helped spread the word and generate interest.
“We’ve been crushed with prospects – it’s a good problem to have. We have 23 companies in Leesburg either certified or seeking certification, 16 of which are new to Leesburg since January 1.” He added that the HUBZone program has already brought 88 new jobs to the town, and that Leesburg is currently working with an additional 20 to 25 prospects. While the majority of companies enrolled are in what Parsons classifies as cyber security, IT or computer software, he adds that any type of company can apply.
“It can be any business that does business with the federal government, not just IT – cleaning, construction companies, meeting planners … any company providing a service that the government needs can go for the designation.”
Mason Enterprise Center Director Susan Henson added that the program has made a big impact on the center’s available space. “We’ve gone from 75 to over 100 percent occupancy – I say over 100 percent because we have created office spaces where there were none before, and we now have a waitlist for dedicated office space at the center.”
For more details, check out this presentation.