• Border Electric Inc., Calais: network engineering, system integration
• Hanscom Construction Inc., Machias: sitework, underground utilities, road work
• SaviLinx LLC, Brunswick: call and contract center services
• Richen Management LLC, Dover-Foxcroft: janitorial and property management services
• Axiom Technologies LLC, Machias: internet service provider
• C&S Industrial Supply Inc., Winslow: industrial supplies, hose and rope fitting and assembly
• Northern Pride Communications Inc., Topsham: management and communications tower services
• Inner Space Services Inc., Casco: dredging, marine and diving contractor
• Gordon Contracting Inc., Sangerville: general contractor
• Analytic Insight Inc., Lewiston: survey research, program and advanced data analysis
SOURCE: Small Business Administration
Call center SaviLinx LLC of Brunswick in late March became the latest Maine company and the first in Brunswick Landing to be certified as a Historically Underutilized Business Zone, or HUBZone, by the U.S. Small Business Administration. It joins telecommunications tower service company Northern Pride Communications Inc. of Topsham, which was the first midcoast company to be certified in early March, plus nine other Maine companies.
The SBA program, targeted at promoting economic development and employment growth, lets the certified companies compete for federal contracts and subcontracts more favorably, giving them a 10% price evaluation preference.
A total of 11 Maine companies are active certified HUBZones, Jim Pineau, senior area manager in the SBA's district office for northern Maine in Bangor, told Mainebiz. There are 5,000 U.S. HUBZone companies.
"We would like to see more companies apply to be certified," Pineau added. "It helps businesses get preferential treatment in the federal marketplace." In addition to the companies, Piscataquis and Washington counties are HUBZones as well as qualified Native American reservation areas in Penobscot, Indian Township, Houlton Maliseet and Pleasant Point. SBA lists the former naval air station as the only HUBZone base closure area.
"Acquiring HUBZone certification … will allow us to continue to grow soundly, remain profitable and provide greater financial security and growth opportunities," said Heather Blease, founder and CEO, SaviLinx, who also is SBA-certified as a Women-Owned Small Business. Blease told Mainebiz last September that 75% of the company's $10 million revenue was from government work.
The federal government has a goal of awarding 3% of all dollars for federal prime contracts to HUBZone-certified small business concerns. To become HUBZone certified, a company must be a certified small business, be owned at least 51% by U.S. citizens, be located in a HUBZone and have at least 35% of its staff reside in within the HUBZone, according to the SBA.
Pineau said the program was expanded by a bill sponsored by U.S. Reps. Bruce Poliquin and Chellie Pingree and a second piece of legislation sponsored by U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King in fiscal 2015. The legislation became part of the National Defense Authorization Act that went into effect Oct. 3, 2016. It expanded HUBZone eligibility criteria for companies located at former U.S. military installations or just outside them and in economically distressed communities with high poverty or unemployment rates. The legislation also extended the period of time for which a closed base would qualify to eight years from five years.
Pineau explained that HUBZone status only lasts up to eight years, and that if an economically distressed community becomes more financially fit, it may lose its HUBZone status. For example, Piscataquis County is currently being redesignated but will hold its status until July 2018, Pineau said.
He said the SBA assigns HUBZone status to Maine companies based on data from the Department of Defense, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.