Obtain a Competitive Advantage as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise

Kelleigh Irwin Fagan

Author: Kelleigh Irwin Fagan

POST DATE: 6.14.17
Ccha  Business Services

A small business that has a minority, female, or veteran owner with at least 51% ownership could be eligible to obtain the status of a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (“DBE”).   Why would you want to have the status of a DBE?  Because it provides substantial benefits for owners.  More and more we are seeing entities’ and contractors’ requests for proposals indicate that a company with DBE status will have an advantage over non-DBE companies.  You can increase your probability of being selected by contractors in certain industries.  In short, it gives your company a competitive advantage.

Depending on your type of business, 3 different Indiana agencies offer DBE status:  the Indiana Department of Transportation, the Indiana Department of Administration, and the City of Indianapolis.  In some instances, certification by any of these agencies may qualify your company as a federally certified DBE, which is advantageous for any business that works on certain federal projects. 

How do you become DBE certified?  There is a separate certification process for each agency.  However, there are 3 general steps that occur for each agency.  First, you must meet the eligibility criteria, which includes having proper ownership and control, gross income, personal net worth (of the minority, female or veteran owner), and expertise in the field.  If you meet these criteria, then an application must be submitted.  The applications for each agency vary in length and complexity.  Keys to streamlining the application process include good record keeping and organization.  After an application is submitted, you may have an on-site interview in which a representative from one of the agencies visits your business to evaluate you in action and discuss your company in more detail.

After you obtain initial DBE status, there are maintenance and renewal requirements.  Generally speaking, on an annual basis, you must file a form with the agency stating any changes in ownership of your company or that there were no changes in ownership.  And every three years, you must submit documentation to renew your DBE status.  Like the application process, the renewal process differs for each agency—some require more voluminous documentation than others.

Our firm regularly assists clients to determine if they are eligible for DBE status, help them navigate the application process, prepare them for agency interviews, and assist in the maintenance and renewal processes.  If you have any questions or want to learn more about the advantages of obtaining DBE status, contact CCHA — we will be happy to help!

For more information about Kelleigh and her practice, please visit her profile.