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More federal financial help may soon be available for West Virginia small businesses.
Gov. Jim Justice is petitioning for Boone, Clay, Hampshire, Monroe and Preston Counties to be added to the state roster as governor-designated HUBZones.
“Our great state’s small businesses deserve a fighting chance to show the nation the competitive advantage of West Virginia,” Justice said. “We remain ready and able to compete for federal contracting opportunities and help revitalize our rural communities through continued hard work and dedication.”
The Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) federal program gives participating small businesses access to exclusive federal contracting opportunities and preferential price evaluations when bidding on at-large federal contracts.
If approved, small businesses would now have access to markets where they were previously excluded, or where they suffered a competitive disadvantage.
Justice’s designations are in addition to the existing West Virginia HUBZones where businesses are already bringing federal dollars into the state. In 2020, West Virginia small businesses contracted for $48 million worth of goods and services
West Virginia Commerce Secretary James Bailey said, in 2022, there were 59 small businesses that were taking advantage of these – in the limited areas where they were already existing.
“They were awarded almost $100 million in federal contracts,” Bailey said. “What the governor has done here is tremendously increase the areas where small businesses can qualify for this program.”
Bailey said this is not a one and done thing every single year.
“We’re going to be able to reexamine the areas throughout the state that qualify for these designations and do analysis to see how we can keep expanding it,” Bailey said. “These are areas that have to meet certain demographics. It’s not just where the business is located, employees have to be residing there.”
Bailey said the HUBZone program presents a great opportunity for businesses to not only increase revenue and diversify income streams but to also continue driving local economic growth and job creation.