In efforts to increase cooperation between minority-run businesses and the government, the State of Mississippi has established the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Certification program. This was established when the Mississippi 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 Mississippi Department of Transportation are for 11.7 percent of all Federal Highway Agency contracts to be allocated toward DBE certified businesses and 7.13 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
The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program is a federal program operating under the guidance of the United States Department of Transportation. Authorization for the program comes from 49 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 26(49 CFR 23) by the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT).
The goal of the DBE Program is to ensure that firms owned and controlled by minorities, women, and other socially and economically disadvantaged persons have the opportunity to grow and become self-sufficient so that they are able to complete, on equal basis, with non-disadvantaged businesses for contracts and subcontracts in the transportation industry.
To qualify for DBE certification, the business owner should apply through the UCP program. The following are the programs general guidelines:
1.The firm must be at least 51% owned by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
2. The firm must be an independent business, and one or more of the socially and economically disadvantaged owners must control its management and daily operations.
3. The owner must hold the highest office.
4. Must own necessary equipment and have the necessary personnel to do the work
5. Only existing for-profit “Small Business Concerns,” as defined by the Small Business
Act and Small Business Administration (SBA) regulations may be certified. DBE applicants are the first subject to the applicable small business size standards of the SBA. Second, the average annual gross receipts for the firm (including its affiliates) over the previous three fiscal years must not exceed U.S. DOT’s cap of $22,410,000 Million. For firm applying for airport concession DBE certification: The average annual gross receipts for the firm (including its affiliates) over the previous three fiscal years must not exceed $52,470,000.
- The Personal Net worth (PNW) of each socially and economically disadvantaged owner must not exceed $1.32 million. The PNW excludes the individual’s ownership interest in the applicant firm and the equity in his/her primary residence.
- Socially and economically disadvantaged individual means any individual who is a citizen of the United States (or lawfully admitted permanent resident) and who is a member of the following groups:
- Black American, Hispanic American, Native American, Asian-Pacific American, and Subcontinent
Asian American, or Women, or any individual found to be socially and economically disadvantaged on a case-by-case basis by a certifying agency pursuant to the standards of the U.S. DOT 49 CFR Part
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.
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.
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 Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) and it requires certification through the UCP. MDOT’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
City of Jackson – Equal Business Opportunity Office (EBO)
The mission of Jackson’s EBO is to promote the inclusiveness of minority and female owned businesses within the city’s procurement process and to facilitate via race and gender neutral tools, the equitable awarding of contracts to minority and female business enterprises. The City of Jackson offers a web-based compliance tool that is designed to streamline and automate your reporting requirements. The system is accessible to all firms doing business with the City of Jackson and includes the following key features:
Click here if you want to certify your business as a Minority/Female Enterprise.
The Review Process
Prospective contractors must submit a complete Equal Business Opportunity Plan with their bid submission. Bids will not be awarded until the Equal Business Opportunity Officer has approved the EBO Plan. The City has established participation goals for each of the following categories: Architectural/Engineering & Professional, Construction, and Goods and Non-Professional Services.
The EBO Plan should contain the following:
- Names, addresses, and contact persons of the African-American Business Entities (AABEs), Hispanic Business Entities (HBEs), Asian Business Entities (ABEs), Native American Business Entities (NABEs) and/or Female Business Entities (FBEs) to be used in the contract
- Type of work or service each business will perform
- Dollar value of the work
- Scope of the work
Contractors may employ AABEs, HBEs, ABEs, NABEs or FBEs to meet the applicable project or may meet the project goals by utilizing:
- MBE Suppliers
- Joint Venture Agreements
- Mentor-Protégé Agreements
Visit the city’s webpage for more information: https://jackson.diversitycompliance.com/Default.asp?
Coast Transit Authority (CTA)
Mississippi’s CTA is a recipient of Federal Funding and has established a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program in accordance with regulations of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), 49 CFR Part 26. The CTA aims to award 4 percent of its contracts to DBEs.
CTA follows the MS Department of Transportation DBE certifications guidelines as part of the statewide Unified Certification Program. The link below will provide you with more information regarding the Mississippi Department of Transportation program, DBE application, as well as DBE Directories. https://coasttransit.com/dbe/
MWBD serves as the City of Baltimore’s primary advocate for small, local, minority and women-owned companies including prime contractors, subcontractors, and joint venture partners. MWBD provides support for small, local, minority-owned and women-owned companies seeking to do business with the City of Baltimore by expanding contracting opportunities and increasing the procurement dollars spent with minority and women-owned companies.
To get certified as a DBE with the MWBD, visit the link below and fill out the application:
The Mississippi Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC)
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.
Mississippi’s WBDC has regional offices in Jackson where you can apply and get help with your certification application. Visit the website for the local addresses here: https://wbcmississippi.org
Or visit the national page of https://www.wbdc.org/certification-services/ to apply online.
Southern Region Minority Supplier Development Council (SMSDC)
Businesses in Mississippi 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 SMSCD offers minority business certifications for companies across Mississippi, through its location in Jackson, MI. Eligibility is established by conducting a series of screenings, interviews and site visits. Click on this link for more information or to apply: http://www.srmsdc.org