SBA launches HUBZone Gateway

The Small Business Administration has launched a new Web-based search tool for contracting officers looking to do business with HUBZone-certified businesses.

Called the Contracting Officer's HUBZone Gateway, the site will enable procurement officials to find information on companies that have qualified for the HUBZone (Historically Underutilized Business Zone) program.

The gateway, located on the HUBZone Web site (www.sba.gov/hubzone), is linked to SBA's Procurement Marketing and Access Network (Pro-Net) database of information about small, disadvantaged, woman-owned and HUBZone businesses. The gateway weeds out information on all non-HUBZone businesses in Pro-Net, presenting only information about HUBZone companies and their capabilities.

"[The gateway] will reduce the amount of searching only to the population of certified HUBZone companies," said Michael McHale, SBA associate administrator for the HUBZone program. "We wanted to make sure [contracting officers] had a way to reach HUBZone companies that's very efficient."

McHale said that during HUBZone training sessions for contracting officers held across the country, many attendees asked how they could find out what HUBZone firms are in the marketplace and the type of work individual firms can do. The new service should provide an easy way to find out such information, he said.

"The whole idea of the HUBZone Gateway is to put all of those tools a contracting officer needs in one location," McHale said. "We wanted to make sure they could do their market research quickly and efficiently."

The HUBZone program aims to boost economically distressed areas by awarding federal contracts to businesses located in those areas. In order to qualify, a business' principal office must be located in a HUBZone — areas with high unemployment, low income or those on federally recognized American Indian reservations. Also, at least 35 percent of the company's employees must reside in the zone.

For fiscal 2001, the federal government has a goal of awarding 2 percent of all prime contracts to HUBZone businesses, and by 2003 the goal climbs to 3 percent. With a goal of 1.5 percent in fiscal 2000, the government achieved only 0.23 percent.

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