In efforts to increase cooperation between minority-run businesses and the government, the State of Iowa has established the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Certification program. This was established when the Iowa Department of Transportation entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with partnering DBE certifying agencies across the state.
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. The current requirements of the Iowa Department of Transportation – the largest source of DBE contracts in the state — are for 12 percent of all Federal Highway Agency contracts to be allocated toward DBE certified businesses and 7 percent of Federal Transportation Agency contracts. As a result, this program provides opportunities for ‘disadvantaged’ owners to excel their small businesses with government contracts.
Statewide Certification Programs
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 Iowa. 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 Iowa.
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 $750,000.
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 Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) and it requires certification through the UCP. IDOT’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.
Local And Regional Programs
The WBDC 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.
The nearest WBDC regional office to Iowa is in Chicago. Visit the national page of to apply online.
North Central Minority Supplier Development Council (NCMSDC)
Businesses in Iowa 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 NCMSCD offers minority business certifications for companies across serve Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. its location are in Minneapolis, and Glendale Springs, WI, but you can apply online using the link below. Eligibility is established by conducting a series of screenings, interviews and site visits.