Business Certification: Encouraging Diversity, Growth and Equity (EDGE) Program
The State of Ohio’s Encouraging Diversity, Growth and Equity (EDGE) program establishes an annual goal for state agencies, boards and commissions, as well as guidelines for state universities in awarding contracts to certified EDGE businesses. The EDGE program is designed to assist socially and economically disadvantaged businesses in obtaining state government contracts in the following areas: construction, architecture and engineering; professional services; goods and services; and information technology services. (In contrast to the Minority Business Enterprise program, the EDGE program does apply to construction contracts.) The State of Ohio developed the program because it recognizes the need to encourage, nurture, and support the growth of economically and socially disadvantaged businesses to foster their development and increase the number of qualified competitors in the marketplace.
An EDGE-certified business must be owned and controlled by a U.S. citizen who is a resident of Ohio. A business may qualify for EDGE certification if either (a) its owner is both socially and economically disadvantaged, or (b) the business is located in a qualified census tract and the owner is economically disadvantaged. (Economic disadvantage is based primarily on the owner’s personal net worth.) In addition, the following criteria must be met:
- The business must
- Have been in business for at least one year prior to applying; and
- Be at least 51 percent owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals; and
- The business owner must
- Have day-to-day control over the business, exercising final authority over all aspects of the daily operations of the business, including but not limited to operations, financial and business management, and human resources and policy decisions; and
- Possess all licenses and permits required by law to perform the scope of work within classifications requested.
Steps for EDGE Certification
The applicant must complete a Unified Application through the Ohio Business Gateway and provide supporting documentation as required. (A list of the supporting documents can be found here. Please note that only complete applications, which must include all required supporting documentation, will be reviewed.) Applications are subject to on-site review by state compliance officers. Upon application approval, the company receives an EDGE-certification by email. Reviews take an average of 60 business days or less from the time a completed application is submitted.
For certain applications, however, a “fast track” system reduces application time to approximately five days. To qualify for “fast track” processing, the applicant must (a) submit the application through one of the regional Minority Business Assistance Centers, which are operated by the Ohio Development Services Agency; and (b) have a pending contract award that requires certification or be a candidate for and in need of financing or bonding where certification is a requirement.
In addition to the requirement for EDGE certification, any EDGE-certified business bidding on a contract awarded by any state agency must meet all applicable pre-qualification requirements.
Steps to Certification
- Visit Ohio Business Gateway
- Log in using username and password
- Select "Start a Transaction"
- Select "Equal Opportunity Division"
- Select "Unified Application" and complete the form
- Complete the confirmation and checkout process
- Submit supporting documentation as required to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Benefits of EDGE Certification
Certified EDGE program participants are eligible for contract assistance, financial and bonding assistance, and management and technical assistance.
Procurement Preference for Contracts
- Certified businesses are listed in a searchable database
- Opportunity to compete for contracts from state agencies, boards, commissions and universities, which must meet annual EDGE spending goals
Financial and Bonding Assistance -- Exclusive access to certain loan and bond programs, which can provide access to capital and bonding for firms that may not qualify for traditional lending or bonding, including:
- Capital Access Program
- Ohio Mini-Loan Guarantee Program
- Collateral Enhancement Program
- Targeted investment Program
Management and Technical Assistance
- Access to Minority Business Assistance Centers and Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, which assist businesses with identifying federal, state, and local contracting and subcontracting opportunities
- Access to free accounting assistance, structuring internal accounting systems, auditing management records, business plan development, technical advisory services, marketing plans and evaluation of company operations/management processes
- Access to mentoring opportunities with major corporations
Statutory and Regulatory Authority
The enabling statutes for the EDGE program are R.C. 123.152. The regulations that govern the program are found in Ohio Adm. Code Chapter 123:2-16.