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Minority and Small Business Certifications

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The Minority Business Development Division and Minority Business Assistance Centers can help businesses become state-certified in four different programs.

Minority Business Enterprise Program (MBE)

The state of Ohio’s Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Program is designed to assist minority-owned businesses in obtaining state government contracts through a set-aside procurement program for goods and services. The state of Ohio developed the program because it is committed to making all state contracts, services, benefits, and opportunities available without discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, or ancestry.

MBE establishes a 15% requirement for state agencies, boards, and commissions in awarding contracts to certified MBE businesses. In order to be certified as a MBE, a company must be owned and controlled at least 51 percent and for more than a year by an Ohio resident and U.S. citizen who belongs to one of the following ethnic groups: African American, Asian, Hispanic or Native American.

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Encouraging Diversity Growth and Equity Program (EDGE)

The state of Ohio recognizes the need to encourage, nurture, and support the growth of economically and socially underutilized businesses to foster their development. The Encouraging Diversity Growth and Equity (EDGE) Program provides an “EDGE” to small businesses in public contracting. EDGE is an assistance program for economically and socially disadvantaged business enterprises.

EDGE establishes goals for state agencies, boards, and commissions in awarding contracts to certified EDGE-eligible businesses. An EDGE participant must be a business enterprise located in a qualified census tract, or the business may qualify if the owner meets the established program criteria for socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.

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Women Business Enterprise Program (WBE)

The state of Ohio’s Women Business Enterprise (WBE) program is designed to assist women-owned businesses in obtaining contracts for goods and services, construction, architecture, engineering, information technology, and professional services. The WBE program does not apply a procurement goal or set-aside target for state government contracts. The state of Ohio developed the program because it recognized the need to encourage, nurture, and support the growth of women-owned businesses to foster their development and increase the number of qualified competitors in the marketplace.

A WBE certified business must be owned and controlled by a woman who is a U.S. citizen and has an established residency in the state of Ohio or a reciprocal state. In addition, the following criteria must be met:

  • The business must have been in business for at least one year prior to applying and

be at least 51% women-owned.

  • The business owner must possess requisite knowledge of the business and industry in which she is applying; have day-to-day control over the business, exercising final authority over all aspects of daily operations, including but not limited to, operations, financial and business management, human resources, and policy decisions; and possess all licenses and permits required by law to perform the scope of work within classifications requested.

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Veteran-Friendly Business Enterprise Procurement Program (VBE)

The state of Ohio's Veteran-Friendly Business Enterprise (VBE) Procurement program provides preference or bonus points to certified companies that compete to contract with the state to supply the goods or services it needs, including eligible construction services.

To be eligible for certification, the applicant business must satisfy one of the following criteria: At least 10% of its employees are veterans or on active service; At least 51% of the applicant business is owned by veterans or persons on active service; If the applicant business is a corporation 51% of which is not owned by veterans or persons on active service, at least 51% of the board of directors are veterans or persons on active service; Or the business is certified by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business or a Veteran-Owned Small Business and the owner(s) of the business meets the definition of veteran as defined in the Ohio Administrative Code.

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