How one company developed a HUBZone strategy

Some small companies are willing to work hard for the perceived value of the HUBZone designation.

Superlative Technologies Inc. in McLean, Va., for example, opened a federal call center in Machias, Maine, in 2001, even though that's not the systems integrator's normal line of work.

The reason? "When I found out it was in a HUBZone, we made a corporate decision to chase that business," said Greg Walker, executive vice president of the company better known as SuprTek. The call center supports 40,000 Navy civilian employees in the Northeast, primarily giving them advice on their benefits packages.

"We had to build it from the ground up. Machias is basically a fishing village," Walker said. The center now employs 35 people. To encourage employees to live in the HUBZone, SuprTek offered to reimburse up to half of their monthly rent or mortgage.

SuprTek took great care in applying for the HUBZone designation, Walker said. "We were pretty thorough. We listed the names of the employees who lived in the HUBZone, gave their addresses. We probably gave [the Small Business Administration] too much information, but we wanted to make sure everything was on the up on up."

So far SuprTek's only bid to use the designation led to a second-place showing for an infrastructure support engagement at Columbus Air Force Base in Columbus, Miss. The company is protesting the legitimacy of the contract winner, Rothe Computer Solutions, which is also based in Columbus.

However, the HUBZone program is too new to be subject to widespread abuse, he said. "I don't know that there's that many HUBZone deals on the street right now. It's in its infancy," he said. "For every government program with a benefit attached, there will be unscrupulous companies trying to game it."

SuprTek was one of the 34 companies awarded a spot on the HUBZone governmentwide acquisition contract that the General Services Administration awarded in January, he added.

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