Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King introduced bipartisan legislation today, the HUBZone Expansion Act, which would better tailor the HUBZone program to meet the needs of communities affected by the closure of U.S. military installations through the Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) process.
“Military bases serve as critical economic engines for the towns and cities in which they are located,” said Senators Collins and King in a joint statement. “When an installation closes as a result of the BRAC process, communities often struggle for years during the redevelopment process.”
In order to address these challenges, Congress passed legislation that allows small businesses located on former military bases or in “economically distressed communities” with high rates of poverty or unemployment, to obtain certain federal contracting preferences, classifying them as HUBZones. At present, there are 107 BRAC-related HUBZones in the United States.
For many of the communities surrounding closed military bases, however, achieving HUBZone status has proven difficult. The law currently requires 35 percent of employees in a qualifying business to live within the geographic boundaries of the closed base. With very few people residing on these closed bases, this requirement makes it difficult for former bases to meet the program’s residency requirement.
In addition, businesses are only given HUBZone status for five years. The process of closing a base can take years and many businesses often lose years of program eligibility.
To remedy these problems, the HUBZone Expansion Act would make two important modifications. First, it would allow prospective employees who live just outside the boundaries of the closed base to count toward the 35 percent requirement. This larger pool would allow more businesses to qualify for HUBZone status. Second, the legislation would extend the period of time for which a closed base would qualify from five years to eight years.
“The current requirements that need to be met in order to qualify as a BRAC-related HUBZone are exceedingly difficult for businesses and job seekers to meet. This legislation tailors the HUBZone program so it can best help communities and the people most affected get back on their feet after a base closure,” continued Senators Collins and King.
As the Senate soon begins consideration of the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, Senators Collins and King will continue to pursue every opportunity to see the HUBZones provision pass into law.
The Association of Defense Communities supports this bipartisan legislation.