In efforts to increase cooperation between minority-run businesses and the government, the State of Connecticut has established the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Certification program. This was established when the Connecticut Department of Transportation entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with partnering DBE certifying agencies across the state. The partnering agencies form the Connecticut Regional Certification Committee (MRCC).
This program sets annual quotas to dictate the amount of overall Department of Transportation funds that are allocated toward DBE certified (and thus, minority run) businesses. As a result, this program provides opportunities for ‘disadvantaged’ owners to excel their small businesses with government contracts.
Statewide Certification Programs
Connecticut Unified Certification Program (UCP)
To qualify for DBE certification, the business owner should apply through the UCP program. The UCP functions as a “one stop shop” for DBE certification throughout the state, so a company can apply once for DBE certification and when granted it applies throughout the state. In fact, it allows firms interested in seeking certification as both a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) to simultaneously complete the Uniform Certification Application. Additionally, if you have been granted DBE status in another state, you can apply through the UCP to have it recognized by the state of Connecticut.
In order to qualify, the majority owner of the business must be a member of a socially or economically ‘disadvantaged’ group in the United States with legal residence. In addition, the owner must have proof of expertise in the given field of work, as well as maintain a personal net worth below $1.31 million.
Qualifying applicants receive recognition from each state agency that receives federal funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation. This makes it easy for qualified businesses to apply for multiple opportunities. Here is the link to the UCP application.
It is recommended that you save the form to your desktop as you work on completing the entire application and it’s important not to leave any blank answers, or it will kick back the application as unfinished, causing a delay.
There are four steps of the application process:
- Complete the UCP certification application and provide the required documents.
- An audit of the documentation will be conducted to determine preliminary eligibility.
- An on-site visit/review by a UCP Specialist will be performed to determine program compliance and eligibility.
- Once eligibility is determined and all program requirements are met a certificate of participation will be issued.
The biggest provider of DBE projects is the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT) and it requires certification through the UCP. CDOT’s DBE Program was established by the federal government to ensure women- and minority-owned businesses have the opportunity to participate in contracts financed in whole or in part by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The SMBC helps companies wishing to get certified as DBEs to file their applications and get qualified. The requirements are consistent with other state and local DBE qualifications, meaning:
- The majority stockholder (firm’s principle) must be considered socially and economically disadvantaged according to state guidelines. This includes recognized minority groups and females.
- The principle(s) must have a documented personal net worth that does not exceed $1.31 million, which excludes equity in the firm.
- The firm’s annual receipts (based on a three-year average) cannot exceed the Small Business Administration’s size standards based on the firm’s primary function and NAICS codes.
Local And Regional Programs
CTtransit is committed to the effective implementation of its DBE Program as defined in Title 49 Part 26 of the Code of Federal Regulations entitled “Participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises in Department of Transportation Programs”. The objectives of CTtransit’s DBE Program are:
- To ensure nondiscrimination by CTtransit in the award and administration of DOT-assisted contracts;
- To ensure that the DBE program is narrowly tailored in accordance with applicable federal, state and local laws;
- To ensure that only firms fully meeting the eligibility requirements of the DBE program are permitted to participate;
- To help create a level playing field on which DBEs can fairly compete for DOT-assisted contracts;
- To help remove barriers to the participation of DBEs in DOT-assisted contracts;
- To help and assist in the development of firms that can compete successfully in the marketplace outside of the DBE program; and
- To provide appropriate flexibility to establish and provide DBEs opportunities to participate in DOT-assisted contracts in accordance with applicable federal, state and local law.
CT Transit requires that over 12 percent of its funding goes to certified DBEs. Visit the link below for more information:
The CWBDC can help small businesses that qualify to get certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE). This nationally recognized certification is accepted by more than 1,000 corporations representing America’s most prestigious brands, in addition to many states, cities and other entities.
Some of the benefits of WBE certification include invitations to networking events with supplier diversity representatives, contact information for supplier diversity representatives, and opportunities to attend corporate panels, procurement events, and education opportunities. To qualify, your business must be 51% owned, operated and controlled by a woman or women.
Connecticut’s WBDC has regional offices in Stanford and Derby, CT where you can apply and get help with your certification application. Visit the national page to apply online.
Businesses in Connecticut that are at least 51% owned and operated by one or more ethnic minorities can get an MBE certification from this regional branch of the national organization called the Minority Supplier Development Council (MSDC). The CMSCD offers minority business certifications for companies across the state. Eligibility is established by conducting a series of screenings, interviews and site visits.