October 11, 2017

Senate Advances Hirono Proposal to Extend Maui County’s HUBZone Status

HONOLULU – The U.S. Senate passed legislation supported by Senator Mazie K. Hirono that would extend the federal Historically Underutilized Business Zone Contracting (HUBZone) program for Maui County small businesses, and other communities that are set to lose their HUBZone designation.

“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,” said Senator Hirono. “Moving this provision forward to extend Maui County’s HUBZone status is good news for small businesses owners, and I will continue to work to see it signed into law.”

Senators Hirono and Ben Cardin’s (D-Md.) HUBZone Investment Protection Act was included in the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, which overwhelmingly passed the Senate. The measure would extend Maui County’s HUBZone status for four years.  

The HUBZone program provides small businesses with federal contracting opportunities, such as set-asides, sole-source awards, and price-evaluation preferences. It is the only small business program that focuses federal contracting dollars on creating jobs, increasing investment, and decreasing unemployment.

The issue of Maui County losing its HUBZone status was brought to the attention of Senator Hirono by the Maui Economic Development Board.

“The looming January 31, 2018 deadline for Maui County losing HUBZone status translated into lost jobs and opportunities,” said Leslie Wilkins, president and chief executive officer of the Maui Economic Development Board. “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.”

While Maui County currently qualifies for the HUBZone program, under federal law the county will lose its HUBZone status in January 2018 absent Congressional action.