The State of Ohio’s Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) program establishes a 15 percent set-aside procurement goal for state agencies, boards and commissions in awarding contracts to certified MBE businesses. The MBE program is designed to assist minority businesses in obtaining state government contracts for goods and services. (Unlike the Encouraging Diversity, Growth and Equity program, the MBE program does not apply to construction contracts.) The State of Ohio developed the program because it recognized the need to encourage, nurture and support the growth of minority businesses to foster their development and increase the number of qualified competitors in the marketplace.
An MBE certified business must be owned and controlled by a U.S. citizen who is a resident of Ohio and a member of one or more of the following minority groups: Blacks or African Americans, American Indians, Hispanics or Latinos, and Asians. In addition, the following criteria must be met:
Certified MBE program participants are eligible for contract assistance, financial and bonding assistance, and management and technical assistance.
Eligibility for Set-Aside 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
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 its MBE-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 MBE certification, any MBE-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 MBE program are R.C. 123.151 and 125.081. The regulations that govern the program are found in Ohio Adm. Code Chapter 123:2-15.
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