Recently, one of the largest employers about 90 minutes north of Spokane in Colville had to lay off more than 20 employees due to an embezzlement case that severely hurt the small town’s economy. The timber and construction industries have already hurt Colville in recent years, and this made things worse.
But, as the cliché goes, when one door closes another one opens. That may be the case with the people of Colville.
A little more than 80 miles to the south of Colville sits Fairchild Air Force Base, our region’s top employer. The base has a few projects that need prime- and sub-contractors. Since the projects are funded by the federal government, it must meet certain requirements, such as contracting with women-owned small businesses, veteran-owned businesses and businesses located in HUB Zones.
Women and veteran-owned businesses are self-explanatory. But what’s a HUB Business Zone? It’s an area determined by the U.S. Census that is underutilized and more remote.
Colville, it just so happens, is right in the middle of a big HUB Zone. Leslie Miller, our Eastern Washington Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) Manager has a number of clients in Colville. When she heard from one of her contacts at Fairchild that the base was looking for HUB Zone contractors, she contacted the Tri-County Economic Development District and advised businesses in that area to become HUB Zone certified – ASAP.
(Note: Just because you’re business is located in a HUB Zone doesn’t automatically make you HUB Zone certified – there’s a process, one that our PTAC office assists with)
Currently, Leslie is working with companies in Colville to become HUB Zone certified in hopes of landing not just the contract with Fairchild, but future federal contracts as well. The contract at Fairchild is expected to be bid on later in the year.
(Note 2: Given our region, you might want to know that the Army Corps of Engineers and the USDA are often looking for HUB Zone businesses to contract with)
The town of Colville is extremely hard working, and can benefit greatly by being HUB Zone certified. The town’s businesses aren’t asking for any handouts – they’re just working hard toward bringing Colville back. There’s a new level of optimism among the Colville business community.
With a hard-working mindset and assistance from our PTAC office, Colville can come back from its rough times. Stay tuned.