Detroit has a lot of them. Grand Rapids has a bunch. You can find them in Bad Axe and Muskegon, too. There are also some in Baldwin, Gladwin and Gaylord. In fact, the state’s census HUBZones — also known as Historically Underutilized Business Zones — are throughout Michigan from Monroe to Escanaba. The zones are identified based on U.S. Census data showing historically high rates of unemployment and low household income.
When agencies of the federal government buy goods or services from private companies, they are supposed to give extra consideration to small businesses located in HUBZones that employ people who also live in a HUBZone. In FY2018, companies located in HubZones across the country received a collective $9.8 billion in business.
Perry Mehta, a Detroit-based business consultant, is very familiar with the program. One of his clients, a contractor for the Army Corps of Engineers, is located in a HUBZone; another works for a Veterans Administration hospital.
“I have seen construction companies that have benefitted,” Mehta said. “Smaller businesses like landscaping and janitorial services also have taken good advantage.”
With literally billions of dollars at work and the potential to create thousands of jobs, the HUBZone program needs complete and accurate census information to determine what businesses are eligible for help. And because HUBZones are located in places where people have been historically undercounted, jobs such as construction, landscaping and janitorial services are often a good match. It is exactly why the program was created.
And all of it underscores the importance of the 2020 census.