Provided by Storage Strategies, Inc.
Storage Strategies, Inc. (SSI) recently attended and provided testimony to a U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Small Business Hearing on the issue of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Historically Underutilized Business (HUBZone) Program. The Committee heard prepared testimony from SBA’s Associate Administrator, Mr. John Shoraka, responsible for management of the HUBZone Program and Mr. William Shear, of the Government Accountability Office. GAO’s Shear testified regarding his organization’s most recent review of the SBA’s oversight of the program. Shear acknowledged the program has had made improvements recently correcting previously identified weaknesses with application processing timeliness and oversight but that improvement was still needed in the automated processes for communicating with Small Businesses and the recertification process. SBA’s Shoraka testified regarding the agency’s increased efforts to advocate for the program and educate Government procurement workforce and local municipalities regarding the program’s benefits for local communities. Most notably, Shoraka pointed out a study and resulting policy decision to lift the 20 percent population cap on qualified census tracts in any metropolitan statistical area. Shoraka emphasized the agency’s commitment to remove unnecessary burdens placed on small businesses that have no merit. The SBA’s 20 percent cap decision allows the program to positively impact over 2,000 census tracts across the nation. The Committee’s members focused much of their attention on whether the SBA’s had the authority to remove the 20 percent cap. Other issues of concern for Members included SBA’s ability to identify and limit fraudulent participation in the program, improvement of SBA’s HUBZone Map functionality, and visibility into the program’s impact in communities.
To qualify for the SBA’s HUBZone program a small business must demonstrate U.S. ownership and control, establish a principal office in a HUBZone, and maintain an employee population of least 35 percent HUBZone residents. HUBZones are designated by the SBA based on data collected in the ten year U.S. census and the Department of Commerce’s American Community Survey. Census tracts qualify for the program if they have a poverty rate of at least 25 percent; or if 50 percent or more of its householders have incomes below 60 percent of the area median household income.
Steve Mackie, President of SSI, a Manassas Park-based HUBZone small business, provided testimony to the Committee on their history with the program and impact on the local community. SSI has provided over 20 jobs for local HUBZone residents to staff a Career Resource Center (CRC), providing free IT skill coaching and job search assistance to local residents. Local residents are hired, trained and certified as Microsoft Office Specialists and then employed as CRC Customer Service Representatives. SSI partners with the local Manassas Park High School to register students hired into the school’s work-study program helping them to earn credit toward graduation. Mackie made an appeal for the Committee to extend the current three-year grace period after a HUBZone loses its qualified status. Mackie pointed out businesses need time to realize a return on the significant investments made when moving into a HUBZone and to gracefully transition its workforce. Mackie lauded the SBA’s decision to lift the 20 percent population cap policy pointing out that the HUBZone program is a job creating program which directly impacts local communities providing employment opportunities to those in economically stressed areas.
SSI is a service disabled veteran owned small business and certified HUBZone small business that provides professional information technology services to U.S. Federal agency customers. More information about SSI and its Career Resource Center is available at its corporate web site: ssihq.net.