The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Local firms could get competitive advantage
BY BILL FREEHLING
All of Fredericksburg will be designated as a Historically Underutilized Business Zone effective Monday, potentially giving city businesses a boost when applying for federal contracts.
On Tuesday, the city’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism organized a panel discussion at the downtown Courtyard by Marriott hotel on what the zone could mean for local businesses. The event attracted about 55 people, including commercial real-estate brokers, federal contractors and bankers.
Three of the city’s five census tracts are already part of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s HUBZone program. The remaining two tracts—an area that includes much of downtown, the University of Mary Washington and a stretch of Lafayette Boulevard south of the Blue and Gray Parkway—were originally scheduled to be folded into the program Jan. 1, but the timeline was moved up.
A stretch of Spotsylvania County bordered roughly by State Route 3, Harrison Road and Salem Church Road is also joining the HUBZone program effective Monday. The designation will last at least eight years.
The HUBZone program is intended to help businesses in areas with lower incomes and higher unemployment rates. The Fredericksburg area as a whole has a low jobless rate, but the city traditionally has a higher one.
Businesses that participate in the program must have their principal office in a HUBZone, and 35 percent of their employees must live in a HUBZone.
The presidents of three Fredericksburg-based businesses that already participate in the HUBZone program—Rebecca Rubin of Marstel–Day LLC, Drew Thomas of ARTTRA Inc. and Sean Haynes of Lifecycle Construction Services LLC—all said it has helped their companies grow.
Being in a HUBZone means Marstel–Day might compete against 50 companies for a federal contract instead of 5,000, Rubin told the audience Tuesday.
Her company, an environmental consulting firm, has recruited people from all over the country to come work in Fredericksburg.
Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405