In recognition that certain groups of business owners have been systematically left out of contracting opportunities, many government entities and corporations have supplier diversity programs. The way to access the priority for these opportunities is to have your business certified by a third-party certifying agency. There are many different types of certification and the process can feel complex, but the resources on this page will help you navigate the process.
The Central Certification (CERT) Program includes certification for Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs), Women's Business Enterprises (WBEs), and Small Business Enterprises (SBEs). CERT is managed by the City of St. Paul and is recognized by the City of St. Paul, Ramsey County, and Hennepin County.
A Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) is a business that is at least 51% owned and controlled by a socially and economically disadvantaged individual, according to the criteria of the Small Business Administration (SBA). This certification is accepted by the City of Minneapolis’ Small and Underutilized Business Program (SUBP), and recognized by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Metropolitan Airports Commission, Metropolitan Council, and City of Minneapolis through the Minnesota United Certification Program (MnUCP).
An LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE) is a business that is at least 51% owned, operated, managed, and controlled by a person (or persons) who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. The owner(s) must be U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents; the business must be independent from any non-LGBT business enterprise; and the business must have its principal place of business in the United States. The local agency to contact to certify your business as an LGBTBE is Quorum.
A Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) is a business that is owned by a U.S. citizen who is Asian, Black or African American, Latino, or Native American. To qualify as an MBE, at least 51% of the business must be owned by a member or members of one of these groups. The local agency to certify your business as an MBE is the North Central Minority Supplier Diversity Council (NCMSDC).
The Minnesota Office of State Procurement (OSP) operates a program for small businesses that are members of a targeted group, economically disadvantaged, or veteran-owned. OSP certifies businesses directly for the TG/ED/VO program. Once a business is certified by OSP, businesses may receive up to a 6% preference in competing for contracts with the State of Minnesota and can be counted toward supplier diversity goals set on subcontracting for larger projects.
A Women's Business Enterprise (WBE) is a business that is at least 51% owned, operated, and controlled by a woman or women. The local agency to contact to certify your business as a WBE is the Women's Business Development Center (WBDC).
An advisor at one of the City's Business Technical Assistance Program (B-TAP) partners can assist you with the process of getting your business certified. In addition, the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) assists businesses with securing government contracts. This includes assistance with W/MBE certification processes.