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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. 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.

Ohio Administrative Code Updates

Ohio Administrative Code 123:2-14

The below referenced updates have been reviewed and approved by the Joint Commission for Agency Rule Review (JCARR) and scheduled to go into effect on October 9, 2020.


Certified Business Owners:
See Something, Say Something

We have created a hotline to receive allegations of possible fraud or abuse in the Minority Business Enterprise (MBE); Encouraging Diversity, Growth, and Equity (EDGE); Women-owned Business Enterprise (WBE); or Veteran-friendly Business Enterprise (VBE) programs. Tips about alleged violations may be reported to the toll-free hotline by calling 1-888-623-8477 (MBE-TIPS). Allegations may be reported between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday by state employees, contractors, or the general public. Callers have the option to remain anonymous. Businesses that violate certification laws or rules risk decertification and the loss of business opportunities. Click here for frequently asked questions about the hotline.

EDGE Eligibility

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.

Social disadvantage for the EDGE program:

  • Race or ethnic origin
    • ​Black or African American
      • All persons having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.
    • American Indian
      • All persons who maintain culture and have origins in a federally recognized Indian tribe as listed in the current "Federal Register Notice of Indian Entities Recognized and Eligible to Receive Services" from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.
    • Asian
      • All persons having origins in any of the original people of the Far East, including China, Japan and Southeast Asia. India has been included in the definition of "Asian." Subsequent to that, Pakistan was included because the country came about as a division from India. 
    • Hispanic or Latino
      • All persons of Spanish or Portuguese culture with origins in Mexico, South or Central America or the Caribbean Islands, regardless of race.
  • Female gender
  • Chronic, physical or mental disability
  • Business owner's long-term residence in an environment isolated from the mainstream of American society

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

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 (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

  • Visit Ohio Business Gateway
  • Log in using username and password (OH|ID)
  • Ensure "Equal Opportunity Division" is among available service areas
  • Ensure "Unified Application" is among available transaction types
  • Ensure filing access (read, edit, submit) is available -- work with your account's Gateway filing administrator
  • Select "Unified Application" and complete the form
  • Click "File" button on the Summary page to see a confirmation page (and print completed application)
  • Submit supporting documentation as required to das-eod.bccu@das.ohio.gov.

Ohio Business Gateway Tutorial

Wondering how to locate the Unified Application on the Ohio Business Gateway? Click here for a PowerPoint tutorial developed to help you log in and add service areas (and forms) to your profile.

Business Resources

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.



General Contact

77 S. High St., 28th Floor
Suite 2815
Columbus, Ohio 43228
Phone: 614-466-8380
Fax: 614-728-5628


Tips Hotline: 1-888-623-8477 (MBE-TIPS)