Jan. 16—CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has petitioned for five counties to be designated HUBZones, including Hampshire and Preston.
The Historically Underutilized Business Zone program gives participating small businesses access to federal contracting opportunities and preferential price evaluations when bidding on at-large federal contracts. West Virginia is one of the first 10 states to petition for expanding access to the program through designated HUBZones, the governor's office said via news release.
Also included in the petition were Boone, Clay and Monroe counties.
"I am so happy to announce that I have spearheaded this petition," Justice said. "Our great state's small businesses deserve a fighting chance to show the nation the competitive advantage of West Virginia. We remain ready and able to compete for federal contracting opportunities and help revitalize our rural communities through continued hard work and dedication."
If approved, small businesses would have access to markets where they were previously excluded or where they suffered a competitive disadvantage, according to the release. The designations are in addition to existing state HUBZones where businesses are already bringing federal dollars into the state.
Three percent of all federal contracts are to be funded through the program. In 2020, West Virginia small businesses contracted for $48 million worth of goods and services, according to the release. In 2022, the state's small businesses contracted for an estimated $99.7 million.
"The governor's decision to seek HUBZone designation for five additional West Virginia counties is further evidence of the state's commitment to its small business community," Department of Commerce Secretary James Bailey said. "The HUBZone program presents a great opportunity for businesses to not only increase revenue and diversify income streams but to also continue driving economic growth and job creation locally."
"This petition demonstrates support from state and local leaders, economic development groups, and interested businesses — all of which shows our commitment to assisting and catalyzing our more rural communities," said Mitch Carmichael, Department of Economic Development Secretary. "We are excited for this opportunity and think that this access to federal dollars would be incredibly beneficial to the continued economic growth of the Mountain State."