Measure to extend Maui’s HUBZone status passes in Senate

By:  Anna Hrushka
Maui County is a step closer to seeing an extension to its designation as an underutilized business zone, after a measure to extend the federal program was passed in the Senate on Thursday.

The Historically Underutilized Business Zone Empowerment Contracting program, known as the HUBZone program, aims to provide small businesses with federal contracting opportunities, such as set-asides, sole-source awards and price-evaluation preferences.

Maui County is set to lose its HUBZone status at the beginning of next year.

“Maui County businesses who have benefitted from the HUBZone program are facing uncertainty and currently must make the difficult decision between moving to a HUBZone county or leave the program,” U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, said in a statement.

Hirono and U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin’s HUBZone Investment Protection Act would extend the HUBZone status for Maui County, as well as other designated areas around the country, for four years.

“The looming January 31, 2018 deadline for Maui County losing HUBZone status translated into lost jobs and opportunities,” Leslie Wilkins, president and CEO of the Maui Economic Development Board, said in a statement. “Thank you to Senator Hirono for her bipartisan leadership to get an extension through the U.S. Senate. This gives Maui County small businesses continued use of a key tool in competing for federal contracts.”