[Reprint from Medium.com]
Author: By Andrés Colón Perez & Alberto Colón-Viera
How rebuilding a maps app is bringing economic opportunity to disadvantaged areas
The USDS team at the Small Business Administration is excited to announce the public release of the modernized Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) map tool.
Small businesses are encouraged to participate in the HUBZone program to gain access to competitive and sole-source contracting, sub-contracting opportunities, and a 10% price evaluation preference in full and open contract competitions. The Federal Government has a goal of awarding 3% of all dollars for federal prime contracts to HUBZone certified small businesses. The goal of the small business certification program is to promote economic development and employment growth in distressed areas by providing access to more Federal contracting opportunities, and modernizing the HUBZone map tool is one step toward accomplishing that goal.
To qualify for the Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) Program, a business must be headquartered in a HUBZone. Common examples include Native American Reservations and areas where unemployment has sharply increased. Additionally, 35% of the business’ employees must reside inside a HUBZone. Generally, companies don’t apply for the program unless they know they qualify, which makes an updated map central to the process. The previous map was no longer meeting user expectations, it was difficult to use and read, took months to update instead of days, and confused users with a language oriented towards policy, making it a hurdle for small business owners who may have otherwise applied for the program.
The recently launched HUBZone Map features significant improvements to usability and accessibility, including simplified language, intuitive searching capabilities, modernized mapping technology with the latest HUBZone regulation and designations changes, and support for mobile devices. These improvements will incentivize business owners to locate in economically distressed areas, correctly identify themselves as HUBZone employers, and have the ability to access additional federal contracting opportunities.
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