WASHINGTON, DC— U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today introduced a bill to protect small businesses in Monroe County by maintaining the county’s status as a Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUB Zone). The Monroe County HUB Zone Extension Act will extend Monroe County’s HUB Zone designation for three years until October 1, 2014.
“Small businesses in Monroe County need the HUB Zone designation to continue spurring economic activity and job creation,” said Senator Casey. “Eliminating the designation now would be devastating to an area fighting to recover from the terrible effects of the recession, and I will continue to fight to give small businesses in Monroe County the tools they need to increase employment and strengthen the regional economy.”
“The continuance of the HUB Zone for Monroe County is crucial for the economic climate of our region,” said Bob Phillips, President of the Greater Pocono Chamber of Commerce. “It will ensure continued job creation and retention not just for our county but for the entire northeastern region of Pennsylvania.”
The HUB Zone program was established in 1997 to stimulate economic development through increased employment and capital investment by providing federal contracting preferences to small businesses in economically distressed communities. Monroe County is currently set to lose its HUB Zone designation on October 1 of this year.
Earlier this year, Senator Casey wrote a letter to the U.S. Small Businesses Administration urging the federal agency to maintain Monroe County’s HUB Zone designation. In the letter, Senator Casey acknowledged that current law requires a nonmetropolitan county meet certain income and unemployment rate criteria to qualify for HUB Zone status, but pointed to the county’s proximity to the New York metropolitan area which inflates median household income and skews that unemployment rate to appear lower than it is for the non-commuter population.