Is your business at least 51% owned and controlled by a woman and/or minority? If so, your business may qualify to be certified as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise- otherwise known as a DBE. This blog is the first in a continuing series that will discuss the various diverse business certifications available. These certifications can potentially assist companies with obtaining additional work and access to projects.
DBEs are for-profit small businesses where individuals who are considered socially and economically disadvantaged own at least 51% of the business and also control the management and daily business operations. Groups that are presumed to be “socially and economically disadvantaged” include women, African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and Subcontinent Asian Americans. Other individuals can apply and be evaluated on a case-by-case basis but must present clear evidence of their social and economic disadvantage. The business must meet the Small Business Administration’s guidelines to be considered small based on their industry. Owners must have a total net worth of less than $1.32 million (some exceptions to assets apply and will be discussed in a later blog) and the business must have average annual gross receipts under $23.98 million.
DBE certification is through a federal program but is administered at the state level by agencies receiving U.S. Department of Transportation financial assistance. In Pennsylvania, DBEs are certified through the Pennsylvania Unified Certification Program. More information can be found here: https://www.dotsbe.pa.gov/PAUCPWeb/paucp/viewHome.do.
Working with an attorney that is familiar with the process can help your business avoid common pitfalls in the certification process. I assist clients with certification in a number of ways, including: