The SBA issued a direct final rule extending the HUBZone map freeze from December 31, 2021, to June 30, 2023. The direct final rule (available here) takes effect on June 21, 2021. This is the latest in a series of developments for the HUBZone Program in 2021.
Several years ago, SBA froze the HUBZone maps until December 31, 2021, to ensure that firms would have enough time to plan after seeing how the results of the 2020 Census would impact the HUBZone maps. However, due to the pandemic, the 2020 Census results are behind schedule and SBA does not expect to have the data it needs until December 2022. Therefore, to ensure HUBZone firms have enough time to plan around the new HUBZone maps based on the 2020 Census data, SBA’s direct final rule will keep the HUBZone maps “on ice” until June 30, 2023. Pushing back the anticipated “thaw” for another 1.5 years will give SBA time to incorporate the 2020 Census data into the HUBZone maps and then provide adequate notice to the HUBZone small business community.
SBA’s direct final rule is a welcome change for many HUBZone firms that were facing the loss of their HUBZone status at the end of this year. It is also possible that, once the HUBZone maps are updated to reflect the 2020 Census data, some areas that are currently in redesignated status could come back into the HUBZone program by the time the HUBZone maps unfreeze after June 30, 2023.