Following the 1982 Surface Transportation Assistance Act, Wisconsin offers Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Certification. The intent of this certification is to enable ‘disadvantaged’ business leaders to engage in contractor relationships with the federal, state, and local governments. In order to qualify, a ‘disadvantaged’ owner with at least 51% of the company’s stake must apply to the program. ‘Disdvantaged’ groups include Women, African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian-Pacific Americans, and Asian-Indian Americans.
In order to qualify, the majority owner must have a personal net worth below $1.32 million; otherwise they do not qualify as economically disadvantaged. The application process typically lasts around 90 days, however, if documents are missing, it may be prolonged. Learn more about information in a government brochure format.
In addition, the business must meet certain requirements. Specifically, the applicant company must meet the Small Business Administration’s size standards, as well as have gross receipts below $23.98 million.
Statewide Certification Programs
Wisconsin Unified Certification Program (WI UCP)
Companies applying in Wisconsin can apply through the Wisconsin Unified Certification Program. This program allows companies to participate in one application process for all jurisdictions throughout Wisconsin, rather than applying for independent jurisdictions. There are a variety of documents that you will need to fill out in order to apply for the Wisconsin UCP. The ones that you will need to fill out include:
– Requested Work / Geographic Area Summary
– Contractor Statement of Experience Form
– *Trucking firms also have to fill out a schedule of leased / owned vehicles
Out of State Certification Programs Recognized Across Wisconsin
Most jurisdictions in Wisconsin will accept DBE certification when it is granted from certain standardized programs that are conducted outside of the state. These include both Department of Transportation certification, and official DBE certification from other states. Click on the link here to see a list of the various programs that qualify:
Local and Regional Programs
Within the City of Madison’s Department of Civil Rights there is program that administers and manages certification, outreach and recruitment, and contract compliance functions for various targeted business programs including: Small Business Enterprise (SBE) Program for Public Works projects, Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Programs for CDBG funded projects, and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program for USDOT/FTA funded projects through the Transit Utility. This program also works with Purchasing Services and individual department/divisions to ensure Minority/Women Business Enterprises (M/WBEs) maximum feasible opportunity to compete for City contracting and procurement opportunities.
The Equal Opportunity Commission in Dane county holds monthly meetings where certification and DBE projects are discussed, and DBE owners can learn new strategies to apply for projects. If you attend the EOC meetings Dane representatives can point you to nearby locations for DBE certifications.
Milwaukee County Community Business Development Partners’ Certification Services (CBDP)
DBE Certification is offered by Milwaukee County’s Community Business Development Partners department (CBDP) to determine the eligibility of small businesses to participate in Milwaukee County’s small and disadvantaged business opportunity program initiatives. These initiatives are designed to increase the diversification of Milwaukee County’s annual spend to include more small, local businesses. Doing business with small, local businesses enables Milwaukee County dollars to remain in the community, and for those dollars to work toward sustainable job creation. Becoming certified may create new, or increase the current number of, opportunities for small businesses to perform work with Milwaukee County. To apply, see the application here or visit the CBFP website: