The Small Business Administration’s HUBZone program provides federal contracting assistance for qualified small business concerns located in historically underutilized business zones in an effort to increase employment opportunities, investment, and economic development in such areas. The Small Business Administration defines HUBZones and publishes a map identifying the location of all HUBZones. Certified businesses located in a HUBZone are eligible to participate in the HUBZone program goal of awarding at least three percent of federal contract dollars.

The current HUBZone program map had been “frozen,” pending the results from the 2020 Census. On May 5, 2021, the SBA extended the HUBZone map freeze mandated by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 from December 31, 2021 to June 30, 2023. The direct final rule takes effect on June 21, 2021. Under the NDAA 2018, certain certified HUBZone small business concerns would maintain their HUBZone status until the HUBZone map was updated in accordance with the results of the 2020 census. SBA previously issued a rule to implement this provision and “freeze” the HUBZone map until December 31, 2021. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the 2020 Census results and the SBA does not expect to have the data it needs until December 2022. Therefore, in order to provide SBA with adequate time to process the data, update the HUBZone Map, and provide notice to the HUBZone small business community, SBA extended the HUBZone freeze through June 30, 2023.

The amendment will replace the current December 31, 2021 date set forth in the definitions of the terms “HUBZone small business concern or certified HUBZone small business concern” and “Redesignated area” contained in Section 126.103 of the HUBZone regulations. This amendment is necessary to avoid public confusion about when certain HUBZone designations will be expiring.

As a reminder, to qualify for the SBA’s HUBZone program, a contractor must: 1) Be a small business; 2) be at least fifty-one percent owned and controlled by U.S. citizens, a Community Development Corporation, an agricultural cooperative, an Alaska Native corporation, a Native Hawaiian organization, or an Indian tribe; 3) have its principal office located in a HUBZone; and 4) have at least thirty-five percent of its employees living in a HUBZone.

The extension of SBA’s HUBZone map freeze is welcome news for contractors that were worried about losing their eligibility for HUBZone set-aside contracts. The extension will allow HUBZone contractors to plan for the update of the HUBZone maps on July 1, 2023.