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Encouraging Diversity Growth and Equity Program (EDGE)

Encouraging Diversity Growth and Equity Program (EDGE)

The EDGE program is designed to assist socially and economically disadvantaged businesses in obtaining state government contracts in the following areas: construction, architecture, and engineering; professional services; goods and services; and information technology services. The state of Ohio developed the program because it recognizes the need to encourage, nurture, and support the growth of economically and socially disadvantaged businesses to foster their development and increase the number of qualified competitors in the marketplace.

EDGE Eligibility

An EDGE-certified business must be owned and controlled by a U.S. citizen who is a resident of Ohio. A business may qualify for EDGE certification if its owner is both socially and economically disadvantaged or if the business is located in a qualified census tract and the owner is economically disadvantaged. Economic disadvantage is based primarily on the owner’s personal net worth.

In addition, the business must:

  • Have been in business for at least one year prior to applying.
  • Be at least 51 percent owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.

*Additional requirements apply.

Social disadvantage for the EDGE program:

  • Race or ethnic origin.
  • Female gender.
  • Chronic physical or mental disability.
  • Business owner’s long-term residence in an environment isolated from the mainstream of American society.

Benefits of EDGE Certification

Certified EDGE program participants are eligible for contract assistance, financial and bonding assistance, and management and technical assistance.

  • Procurement preference for contracts:
    • Certified businesses are listed in a searchable database.
    • Opportunity to compete for contracts from state agencies, boards, commissions, and universities, which must meet annual EDGE spending goals.
  • Financial and Bonding Assistance: Exclusive access to certain loan and bond programs, which can provide access to capital and bonding for firms that may not qualify for traditional lending or bonding, including:
    • Ohio Capital Access Program.
    • Collateral Enhancement Program.
  • Management and Technical Assistance:
    • Access to Minority Business Assistance Centers and Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, which assist businesses with identifying federal, state, and local contracting and subcontracting opportunities.
    • Access to free accounting assistance, structuring internal accounting systems, auditing management records, business plan development, technical advisory services, marketing plans, and evaluation of company operations and management processes.
    • Access to mentoring opportunities with major corporations.

Steps for EDGE Certification

The applicant must complete a Unified Application through the Ohio Business Gateway and provide supporting documentation as required.

For certain applications, a “fast track” system reduces application time to approximately 14 days. To qualify for “fast track” processing, the applicant must submit the application through one of the regional Minority Business Assistance Centers, which are operated by the Ohio Department of Development, and the applicant must have a pending contract award that requires certification or be a candidate for and in need of financing or bonding in which certification is a requirement.

Business Certification: Recertification

Certification into the Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) or the Encouraging Diversity, Growth and Equity (EDGE) programs can be for up to two years. To be recertified, the applicant must demonstrate to the Ohio Department of Development (Development) that the business owner and the business continue to qualify for certification. Note that to be eligible for recertification, a business must apply for recertification prior to the current expiration date of the certification.

If there are no changes to the ownership or business structure of the company, such as changes to Articles of Incorporation, bylaws, Partnership Agreement, stockholders, board of directors, etc., the applicant must complete an online Recertification Affidavit through the Ohio Business Gateway and provide last year’s business federal tax returns. Note that only complete applications, which must include the tax returns, will be reviewed. If changes have occurred to the ownership or business structure of the company or if the expiration date of the current certification has lapsed, the applicant must complete an online Unified Application through the Ohio Business Gateway and provide supporting documentation based on business structure.

If the applicant successfully demonstrates that both the business owner and the business continue to qualify for certification, Development will recertify the business for up to two years. The applicant will be notified by email of the certification approval and will be provided with information how to download a new certificate.

But if Development determines that either the business owner or business no longer meets the certification criteria for the MBE or EDGE program, the applicant will be notified by registered mail, return receipt requested. The notification will include information detailing the applicant’s appeal rights.

Recertifications may be subject to on-site review by state compliance officers. Reviews take an average of five to 10 days.

If the initial certification was issued as a result of cross-certification, a unified application with required documentation is necessary to verify continued eligibility at the conclusion of the initial certification period, not a recertification form.

Steps for Recertification:

  1. Visit Ohio Business Gateway.
  2. Log in using username and password (OH|ID).
  3. Ensure "Equal Opportunity Division" is among available service areas.
  4. Ensure "Recertification Affidavit" is among available transaction types.
  5. Ensure filing access (read, edit, submit) is available; work with your account's Gateway filing administrator.
  6. Select "Recertification Affidavit" and complete the form.
  7. Click "File" button on the Summary page to see a confirmation page (and print completed form).
  8. Submit supporting documents to dev-eod.bccu@development.ohio.gov.

Joint Ventures

A joint venture is a commercial collaboration in which two or more separate businesses — one of which must be certified already by either the Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) program or the Encouraging Diversity, Growth and Equity (EDGE) program — legally join together for the purpose of obtaining a specific contract or undertaking a specific transaction, while at the same time remaining independent. Generally, each member of a joint venture shares the risks of, has an interest in, and contributes assets to the joint venture. Joint ventures can be formed to submit bids or proposals for a contract in any applicable procurement category (i.e., professional services, goods and services, or information technology services). An MBE-certified business cannot participate in a joint venture that submits bids or proposals for construction, architecture, or engineering projects.

Joint Venture Eligibility

To have the joint venture certified into either the MBE or EDGE program, the joint venture must be controlled by the certified business owner. In addition, the certified business owner must have an interest in the capital, assets, and profits and losses of the joint venture at least proportionate to their capital in the venture, but the interest must be at least 51 percent for MBE or 30 percent for EDGE.

Steps for Certifying a Joint Venture

To obtain MBE or EDGE certification of a joint venture, the applicant must complete an online application through the Ohio Business Gateway. In addition, the applicant must submit a copy of the Joint Venture Agreement to dev-eod.bccu@development.ohio.gov. Among other things, the Joint Venture Agreement must include:

  • Name of project and contract number, if known.
  • Location, bid date and type of project.
  • Description of job to be performed by joint venture partners.
  • Percentage of the project to be subcontracted and of actual work being conducted by the subcontractor.
  • Appropriate contract start and completion dates.

Upon receipt and review of the Joint Venture Agreement, the Ohio Department of Development may require an on-site review by a state compliance officer.

Steps for Joint Venture:

  • Visit Ohio Business Gateway.
  • Log in using username and password (OH|ID).
  • Ensure "Equal Opportunity Division" is among available service areas.
  • Ensure "Unified Application" is among available transaction types.
  • Ensure filing access (read, edit, submit) is available; work with your account's Gateway filing administrator.
  • Select "Unified Application" and complete the form.
  • Click "File" button on the Summary page to see a confirmation page (and print completed application).
  • Submit Joint Venture Agreement to dev-eod.bccu@development.ohio.gov.

Submit an EDGE Complaint

Steps to submit EDGE Mediation or Complaint

An EDGE-certified business may file a complaint or request for mediation through the Ohio Business Gateway.

Steps to Submit:

  • Visit Ohio Business Gateway.
  • Log in using username and password (OH|ID).
  • Ensure "Equal Opportunity Division" is among available service areas.
  • Select "EDGE Mediation" and complete the form.
  • Click "Accept" button on the Summary page to see a confirmation page (and print completed form).
  • Submit supporting documentation as required to dev-eod.bccu@development.ohio.gov.

Process for Mediating EDGE Complaints

  • When a complaint is received, the Ohio Department of Development (Development) will either start an investigation or notify the contracting agency of the complaint and request that the agency investigate the complaint.
  • The contracting agency will issue a report detailing its findings and remedial action taken by the agency, if appropriate. The report will also include relevant documents.
  • The agency shall forward the report to Development within four weeks of being notified of the complaint. If the contracting agency is unable to complete its investigation within four weeks, it may contact Development to request an extension.
  • Development will review the report and determine either the investigation report and remedial action is sufficient to resolve the complaint, or further investigation by Development is necessary.
  • As part of this review, Development may share the report and remedial action with the complainant and any interested parties.
  • If further investigation is required, Development will contact the agency to request the information deemed necessary to complete the investigation. This can include, but is not limited to, the following documents:
  • Contract
  • Declaration of subcontractors
  • Declaration of payments
  • Verification of subcontractors used
  • Verification of payments
  • Copies of payment checks
  • Upon review of the documents, Development will issue a Final Complaint Report detailing its findings and recommendations to the complainant, agency director, State EEO Coordinator. and any other parties determine necessary.

Additional Files