This article originally appeared here.
She was a single mom who landed a job as a part-time receptionist. Now, she’s working full-time as the HR manager and pursuing a degree in business. There was the student hired to a part-time job, now owning a degree in accounting and working for the same firm. There are the companies doing outreach, like the one that created a fifth-grade space art contest at local Title I schools, focusing on traveling and moving in space. Or the other that works with the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library to provide Microsoft courses, preparing residents to work in high-tech offices. These are just a few of the success stories related to HUBZone companies in Huntsville.
“The HUBZone program is the greatest inner-city jobs program anybody could participate in,” said Curtis Taylor, president of Linc Research and a supporter of HUBZone companies through The Catalyst Center for Business and Entrepreneurship. Computer-esque as the label may sound, it’s an acronym for Historically Underutilized Business Zones. It includes businesses in myriad fields, from high-tech to maintenance. Not only does it provide jobs, but it also has community outreach through education.
“When you take high-tech businesses like here in Huntsville and put them in HUBZone areas and you’re hiring from there, and then you’re participating in local schools, talking about STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), you really, really make a difference,” Taylor said. “Not only for the currently unemployable but for the kids who have a hope and a vision for what can be.”
“HUBZone businesses bring jobs and contribute to the revitalization of areas that need it the most,” said Mayor Tommy Battle.
Big dividends for HUBZones
Qualifying as a HUBZone program can pay huge dividends. According to the Small Business Association, it helps such businesses “in urban and rural communities gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities.” To qualify:
- A HUBZone is an area that has been recognized by the SBA as having either/and low median income and high unemployment, and it’s a chronic situation.
- A HUBZone business must locate in that area and 35 percent of its employees must be from that area.
With federal funding serving as a major economic driver in Huntsville, the program can have a resounding impact on our community, and on larger businesses as well. It becomes “a win-win for the government,” according to Debbie Batson, director of Large/Small Business Strategic Alliances for Teledyne Brown Engineering. HUBZone companies with a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) focus are working on Teledyne Brown’s space operations contract at Marshall Space Flight Center, helping meet the requirements of providing work for HubZone entities and utilizing some fresh brainpower and ideas. In turn, “we provide the training and provide certification” for the HUBZone employees,” Batson said.
The Catalyst will unite HUBZones
HUBZone companies’ training will be further enhanced through a new initiative that was announced Monday at Huntsville West. The HUBZone Accelerator program has been launched by The Catalyst Center for Business & Entrepreneurship. It will enable HUBZone companies to share resources and more effectively network and will also provide training. Taylor and others had noticed there “wasn’t a resource to help HUBZone companies become stable and help them grow.”
“With the training they’ll receive from The Catalyst, this is a recipe for success,” said Harrison Diamond, Business Relations Officer for the City of Huntsville. There are three specific goals The Catalyst wants to achieve with HUBZone businesses, Taylor said. One, to serve as an advocate and help them grow and become stable. Two, to promote the companies’ capabilities and, finally, “to tell the good stories.” From the single mom to the outreach for business training, those good stories are being written every day in HUBZones.
Can it help your company?
A program called Doing Business with HUBZone Companies will be held Feb. 21 at the Davidson Center, led by Mariana Pardo, the HUBZone Director from the Small Business Association. Registration is at 12:30, followed by the program at 1 p.m. and then an opportunity from 2 to 4 p.m. to meet with HUBZone Exhibitors. For information and to register, check The Catalyst website. The federal government has a goal of awarding three percent of procurement dollars to HUBZone-certified small businesses, and this enables prime contractors to learn more about HUBZone companies and perhaps enlist their work as partners.
Huntsville City Blog | Mark McCarter | January 23, 2018