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RI Small Business Administration (RI SBA)

What is the 8(a) Business Development Program?

  • The 8(a) Business Development Program is a business assistance program for small disadvantaged businesses. It offers a broad scope of assistance to firms that are owned and controlled at least 51% by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
  • The 8(a) Program is an essential instrument for helping socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs gain access to the economic mainstream of American society. The program helps thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs to gain a foothold in government contracting.
  • Participation in the program is divided into two phases over nine years: a four-year developmental stage and a five-year transition stage.


Benefits of the Program

  • Participants can receive sole-source contracts, up to a ceiling of $4 million for goods and services and $6.5 million for manufacturing. The RI Small Business Administration (RI SBA) can help 8(a) firms build their competitive and institutional know-how and encourage firms to participate in competitive acquisitions.
  • 8(a) firms are also able to form joint ventures and teams to bid on contracts. This enhances the ability of 8(a) firms to perform larger prime contracts and overcome the effects of contract bundling, the combining of two or more contracts together into one large contract. Also, see the Mentor-Protégé Program for more information on allowing starting 8(a) companies to learn the ropes from other more experienced businesses.


What are Historically Underutilized Business Zones?

The Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) is a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Program enacted into law as part of the Small Business Reauthorization Act of 1997. The program encourages economic development in historically underutilized business zones, called “HUBZones”, through the establishment of preferences. The SBA’s HUBZone program aligns with the U.S. Government’s effort to promote economic development and employment growth in distressed areas by providing access to more federal contracting opportunities.


How the HUBZone Program Works

The SBA regulates and implements the HUBZone program and:

  • Determines which businesses are eligible to receive HUBZone contracts
  • Maintains a listing of qualified HUBZone small businesses that federal agencies can use to locate vendors
  • Adjudicates protests of eligibility to receive HUBZone contracts
  • Reports to the Congress on the program’s impact on employment and investment in HUBZone areas.


Benefits of the Program

The program’s benefits for HUBZone-certified companies include:

  • Competitive and sole source contracting
  • 10% price evaluation preference in full and open contract competitions, as well as subcontracting opportunities.

The federal government has a goal of awarding 3% of all dollars for federal prime contracts to HUBZone-certified small business concerns.

To see if your company is an a HUBZone, simply enter your company’s address into the HUBZone Map.

Contact an RI APEX counselor or the RI SBA to learn more.

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