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:
Certified EDGE program participants are eligible for contract assistance, financial and bonding assistance, and management and technical assistance.
Procurement Preference for Contracts
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:
Management and Technical Assistance
An EDGE-certified business and economically disadvantaged owner is subject to a 10-year time limit and the business or owner cannot exceed the personal net worth and size standards requirements while in the EDGE program.
The maximum amount of time an EDGE-certified business or business owner may participate in the EDGE program is 10 total years.
Once a business graduates or is time-limited, the business will continue to be eligible for one or more of the programs offered through the Ohio Development Services Agency (click here).
For those businesses that are dual certified into both the EDGE and Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) programs, the 10-year time limit and graduation has no impact on the MBE 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 (including the disability verification form, if applicable (click 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
Wondering how to locate the forms you need to complete on the Ohio Business Gateway? Here are some tutorial videos the Gateway team put together to help you log in and add service areas (and forms) to your profile.
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.
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