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  • Writer's pictureJeff Cazeau

How to tell if you are a good candidate for DBE certification

Updated: Feb 17, 2021

(Para español, haga clic aquí)

Most disadvantaged business owners don't know about DBE, let alone if they're good candidates.
Are you a good DBE Candidate?

Even if you meet all of the requirements for DBE certification, you may not necessarily want to apply for certification if you won’t benefit from the program. To decide whether you should apply, you should first determine if you meet the requirements for DBE certification. You can look up the requirements on our website (here) or on your state’s Uniform Certification Program (UCP) Website. (To find your state UCP, Google the following terms: “uniform certification program [and your state’s name]”.) For forms, instructions, applications and links in English, Spanish, Chinese-Mandarin and Korean click here.

Next, you should determine if anyone is buying what you are selling. If you are in the construction business, particularly road construction, then the DBE certification is definitely a “must have” for your company’s growth and development. Since the DBE certification is a Department of Transportation program, its safe to assume that if you are involved in a business in the transportation industry you can benefit from the DBE program. For some industries its not as obvious.

For example, at first glance, it may not make any sense why a janitorial firm would want or need DBE certification. However, We often see solicitations seeking janitorial firms with DBE certifications. That’s because in order to meet the DBE goals in their contracts, prime contractors often seek janitorial firms as subcontractors. Janitorial firms can find work at transportation hubs such as airports, public transportation centers, and highway rest areas. Janitorial firms can work at construction sites or in debris collection.

Another good example is security guard companies. Again, if though security is not transportation related per se, we often see solicitations for DBE security guard companies. Often the work is related to guarding major transportation hubs such as airports, seaports, train and rail stations etc. Often security firms can find work as subcontractors on construction projects where prime contractors need DBE subcontractors in order to meet DBE contract goals. There are other industries such as IT services, marketing, signage, etc. etc. that are not directly transportation related but who benefit from DBE certification. The best way to learn if someone is buying the goods or services you sell from DBE companies is to research.

  1. Go to your County or State website and find out what contracts are available. Often these databases allow you to search previous solicitations.

  2. Go talk to a purchasing officer or someone else from your local agency such as your County or State Department of Transportation or transit department. They often know what contracts are coming up and which prime contractors are looking to hire DBE subcontractors.

  3. Attend pre-bid meetings. Often, before a government agency accepts bids on a particular project, they will have a pre-bid meeting. A pre-bid meeting is a great place to learn more about the project and ask questions. More importantly a pre-bid meeting is a great place to meet prime contractors who may have an interest in teaming with you or subcontracting with you to meet their DBE goals.

Photo credits:

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels


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