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    Leesburg designation should draw government contractors

    Leesburg could be seeing an influx of government contractors due to a recent designation by the U.S. Small Business Administration of an area of Leesburg as the newest HUBZone in the Washington D.C. metro area.

    Leesburg joins already established HUBZones in parts of Arlington, Fairfax, Fredericksburg and Luray. The designation is a result of the information discovered in the 2010 Census.

    A HUBZone or Historically Underutilized Business Zone promotes economic development and employment growth in distressed areas. Certified HUBZone businesses receive competitive advantages and price preferences when vying for federal contracts.

    To be certified, a business must have its primary office location in a HUBZone, must be a small business by SBA standards, must be 51 percent American owned and 35 percent of its employees must live in a HUBZone.

    Town of Leesburg Economic Development Director Marantha Edwards says the designation is a great economic tool for the town and county.

    “The greatest benefit of this designation is for those folks who successfully seek and get government contracts because they gain an advantage on being awarded contracts,” Edwards said. “This is a new economic development tool that we haven't had before, so where there are more opportunities for Leesburg to attract more government contractor types, then it helps to provide exposure to the town.

    “It is a competitive tool because they're folks in Luray and Fredericksburg that would tell businesses to 'come here' because you are going to have this added benefit of an edge on getting government contracts,” Edwards said.

    Edwards added with part of Leesburg now a HUBZone, more jobs will come from the designation.

    “It's a job creator. If I am government contractor and I want to expand my business, I am going to try to employ someone that lives in the HUBZone, so I qualify and have a 10 percent increase on getting that contract."

    With less than two weeks since the announcement, Edwards has already seen an increase in interest for the area.

    “We have a handful of new businesses and other businesses who have expressed interest in expanding,” Edwards said. “Sovana is a global logistics company in Dulles and they are in an expansion mode so they have expressed interest. We have seen an uptick in interest since we were designated.”

    Leesburg's HUBZone spans the Route 7 corridor to the south side of Edwards Ferry Road and inside the Route 15 Bypass.

    Designation is based upon the median household income within a Census Tract. In order to be designated as a HUBZone, 50 percent or more of the households in a Census Tract must have incomes below 60 percent of the area’s median household income.

    Median household income for Loudoun County is $119,134, according to 2011 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates.

    “The federal contracts that these businesses are chasing include a broad range of job types, from highly skilled technical positions to construction, data entry, call centers and even cleaning services,” Edwards said. “The requirement that 35 percent of a certified HUBZone business's employees live in a HUBZone ensures that the residents of a HUBZone benefit as much as the businesses do.”

    The headline and the article are fine examples of boosterism and speculation. Is the Loudoun Times no more than a rewriter of press releases?

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