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Federal government incentives

The federal government offers benefits to small businesses that contract with the government and are based in underutilized areas. Check into the Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) program to see if you qualify for preferential access to federal procurement opportunities.


The federal government’s goal is to award at least three percent of all federal contracting dollars to HUBZone-certified small businesses each year.

Program benefits

The government limits competition for certain contracts to businesses in historically underutilized business zones. It also gives preferential consideration to those businesses in full and open competition.

Joining the HUBZone program makes your business eligible to compete for the program’s set-aside contracts. HUBZone-certified businesses also get a 10 percent price evaluation preference in full and open contract competitions.

HUBZone-certified businesses can still compete for contract awards under other socio-economic programs they qualify for.

HUBZone program qualifications

To qualify for the HUBZone program, your business must:

  • Be a small business
  • Be at least 51 percent owned and controlled by U.S. citizens, a Community Development Corporation, an agricultural cooperative, a Native Hawaiian organization, or an Indian tribe
  • Have its principal office located in a HUBZone
  • Have at least 35 percent of its employees live in a HUBZone

You can find the full qualification criteria in Title 13 Part 126 Subpart B of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). You can also get a preliminary assessment of whether you qualify at the SBA’s Certify website.

Get certified as a HUBZone business

Before you can participate in the HUBZone program, you must be certified by the SBA. Take these steps to get HUBZone certified.

  1. Make sure you have a account.
  2. Make sure you have a General Login System account.
  3. Apply for HUBZone certification using the General Login System. Log in, select “Access” and then “HUBZone” before completing the prompts.
  4. Check your email for time-sensitive instructions to electronically verify your application within 10 business days.
  5. Submit any requested supporting documentation within 10 business days.
  6. Update your profile to indicate you are a HUBZone business after you get an email confirmation from the SBA.

The information you’ll need to provide in the application will vary based on your business structure and whether you’re already participating in other SBA contracting programs. Read the instructions from the General Login Systemcarefully to make sure you provide all the necessary information.

Maintain HUBZone certification

You’ll need to re-certify for the HUBZone program every three years. There is no limit to the length of time a business can continue to re-certify as long as it continues to qualify.

HUBZone businesses must notify the SBA if their business undergoes any material changes that would affect their HUBZone status. Some examples of material changes include:

  • Change in ownership
  • Change in business structure
  • Change in principal office
  • Falling below the 35% employee HUBZone residency requirement

The SBA may visit HUBZone businesses unannounced and conduct program examinations. The SBA does this to confirm that businesses continue to meet HUBZone requirements.

Need help?

Office of the HUBZone program
409 Third St. SW suite 8800
Washington, DC 20416

HUBZone offers eligibility assistance on Thursdays from 2-3 p.m. E.T. Call 1-202-765-1264 access code 63068189#, or find a local number.