2019-09-01 18:00:00

FAIRMONT — The West Virginia Small Business Administration and the Robert C. Byrd Institute are holding a HUBZone workshop in Fairmont later this month, with officials hoping to increase business interest in federal contracting.

The workshop, which will be held at the Robert H. Mollohan Research Center on Sept. 25, invites local business owners to learn more information on what a HUBZone is, and how they can use that to their advantage, according to George Murray, the deputy district director of the SBA’s West Virginia District Office.

“There are different geographic areas throughout the country that are designated HUBZones, generally based on economic criteria,” Murray said. “Roughly half the state is HUBZone qualified. In order to promote the program, we’ve partnered with RCBI and we’re going out to talk about the program and talk to firms and small business owners about how they can take advantage of that certification in order to grow their business.”

Tyler Brandstetter, RCBI’s entrepreneur service coordinator, said the workshop will lay out the first steps of applying for HUBZone certification, and how that can benefit a variety of different local businesses.

“While many people think of companies that deal with the U.S. government has being high tech types and defense department contracts, that’s not always the case,” Brandstetter said. “The government needs stuff like toilet paper and instant coffee and things of that nature. They can be simple products, high tech products or services, so they could even be thinks like landscaping services.”

Brandstetter encouraged anyone interested to register for the event, saying that HUBZones are a huge resource of which many West Virginia business owners have yet to take advantage.

“This is an excellent opportunity, but one that is unfortunately very underutilized in West Virginia,” Brandstetter said. “We have one of the lowest participation rates of any state, which is unfortunate, because our state has a large amount of HUBZones, specifically the middle portion of the state. The companies that are able to get these contracts and work with the government, expand their businesses and continue their businesses in a manner that they may not have realized beforehand.”

Murray agreed, and noted that the amount of money contracted to West Virginia businesses through the federal government has been steadily rising ever since these HUBZone workshops started in 2016.

“The federal government spends roughly $500 billion a year buying stuff of all kinds,” Murray said. “Federal agencies should be spending 3% of that on contracts with firms in HUBZones. That’s an awful lot of zeroes that get added to those contract opportunities. Since we’ve started promoting this in 201, we’ve grown the HUBZone dollars here in West Virginia from just over $10 million to $19.9 million in fiscal year 2018. If things go as planned, we should be getting roughly $30 million in fiscal year 2019.”

Those interested can register for the event at www.tinyurl.com/y3ewtzqb. For more information, contact Brandstetter at 304-781-1681.

Fairmont News Editor John Mark Shaver can be reached at 304-844-8485 or jshaver@theet.com.

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