Kanava Is Now HUBZone Certified!


KANAVA International has earned HUBZone certification by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program promotes economic development and employment growth in distressed areas by providing access to more federal contracting opportunities.

To qualify for HUBZone status, KANAVA branched out from its headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, to open a principal office in Sault St. Marie, Michigan in 2015. Why Sault Ste, Marie? KANAVA’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Susan Puska, was born and raised in the “Soo.” She left to join the U.S. Army, retiring after nearly 30 years of service. She then decided to go back to school to get her MBA and founded KANAVA in 2012.

“By opening this office on the Canadian border, we want to take the international best practices we have learned from our international development work and apply them to domestic economic development,” said Susan.

HUBZone certification is one of several small business categories recognized by the U.S. government. It is one of the hardest classifications to gain and maintain. The federal government has a goal of awarding three percent of all dollars for federal prime contracts to HUBZone-certified small business concerns.

To be eligible for HUBZone status, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a small business by Small Business Administration standards.
  • Be owned and controlled at least 51% by U.S. citizens or a Community Development Corporation, an agricultural cooperative, or an Indian tribe.
  • Be located within a “Historically Underutilized Business Zone,” which also includes lands considered “Indian Country” and military facilities closed by the Base Realignment and Closure Act.
  • Have at least 35 percent of your employees residing in a HUBZone.

Our Soo office is headed up by Tina Thibault, KANAVA’s Regional Manager, and is located at 546 Ashmun Street, Suite B, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783. We currently have three part-time staff members who are excited to be learning about U.S. government contracting and international development.

“In this town, which sometimes has snow six to eight months out of the year and many seasonal jobs, KANAVA is unique: a new company with an international focus, creating year-round professional jobs to support federal contracting,” adds Tina. KANAVA also works with local commercial companies and non-profit organizations to strengthen their systems to increase their business or funding opportunities, contributing to their sustainability.

KANAVA is getting to know the community, recently offering complimentary training in diversifying funding sources and strategic planning, participating in the Easter Upper Peninsula’s Regional Economic Development Advisory Committee (REDAC) and working with the Sault Ste. Marie’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau on hospitality services. KANAVA International is also a Commemorative Partner for the 50th Commemoration of the Vietnam War and is partnering with the city to host an event to honor Vietnam Era Veterans and their families this June in conjunction with the annual Engineer Weekend.

Additionally, since November 2015, KANAVA holds monthly “KANAVA Conversations” in the Soo where local businesses, non-profits, and guest speakers are welcomed to discuss a particular topic together. In January, we focused on social media, while last month we discussed how to plan a successful event.

HUBZone certification provides economic opportunities for local talent to work in the federal contracting space. We are excited to be part of this program and to help create economic opportunities in the “Soo.”

Kanava International