Working with local business leaders and members of both parties, I recently filed legislation that would make sure that local businesses can continue to utilize the federal government’s Historically Underutilized Business Zone Empowerment Contracting (HUBZone) program for years to come. This program helps businesses in economically distressed areas receive federal contracts and it's been very beneficial to Garrett County.
According to the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce, there are 11 HUBZone certified businesses countywide, employing nearly 500 people. Unfortunately, without changes to the program, Garrett County will lose its HUBZone status next year, due to new calculations by the Census Bureau, data that has been disputed by some as inaccurate. That’s where my bill comes in. The GARRETT HUBZone Redesignation Act (H.R. 2013) reforms the program to give Garrett County and similar communities around the country significantly more time to utilize the program and adjust to potential changes in their eligibility. Under my bill, Garrett County would maintain HUBZone eligibility until 2022.
“The HUBZone designation is the main reason that two of our largest employers, Garrett Container Systems and GCC Technologies, located to Garrett County, and why they have remained. We currently have 11 companies participating in the program,” said Paul Edwards, Chairman Garrett County Board of Commissioners. “Being a struggling rural county with the 4th lowest per capita income in the state, these businesses are invaluable to our economy and to our community. This legislation would help provide more time to work with these companies to hopefully retain them, as well as to help the community transition and diversify.”
I am proud to report that this bill, which I also introduced last year during the previous session, has bipartisan support, and is cosponsored by Republican Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee and Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack of Iowa. This is a local issue, but it’s also a national one, and I will continue to work to build support on both sides of the aisle to reform this program so that more communities around the country can thrive.