Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I want to express my support for the HUBZones in Native America Act of 2000. This bill is designed to clarify eligibility requirements and enhance participation by Native American-owned small firms seeking certification in the Small Business Administration's Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) government contracting program. The bill also sets up a temporary pilot program for Alaska Native Corporations under the HUBZone program.

As ranking member of the Committee on Small Business, I was a cosponsor to the HUBZone legislation when it was enacted into law as part of the Small Business Reauthorization Act of 1997. The original bill language, because of some peculiarities in Native American and Alaska Native law, inadvertently exempted some Native American-owned firms located in economically distressed areas from participating in the HUBZone program. This bill is designed to make those firms eligible to participate.

The HUBZone program, Mr. President, is designed to help qualified small businesses located in economically distressed areas--inner cities, rural areas, and Native American tribal lands--secure contracting opportunities with the Federal government. The program is also designed to create jobs in these areas by requiring that firms hire 35% of their workforce from economically distressed areas.

According to the SBA, there are currently 1171 small businesses that are eligible to participate in the HUBZone program, and 114 of these are Native American-owned, 11 of which are located in the state of Alaska. This bill should provide the vehicle for more Native American-owned firms to become eligible.

Mr. President, Native Americans are one of the groups that the SBA presumes to be socially and economically disadvantaged for purposes of their Section 8(a) and Small Disadvantaged Business contracting programs. Unfortunately, Native American tribal areas have not been able to share in the remarkable economic growth that our country has enjoyed for the last few years. It is my hope that this bill, with its technical corrections to the HUBZone program, will in some part, provide greater economic opportunities in these areas that continue to suffer high levels of unemployment and desperately need this help.