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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. 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.

Ohio Administrative Code Updates

Proposed 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.

MBE Eligibility

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:

  • The business must
    • have been in business for at least one year prior to applying; and
    • be at least 51 percent minority-owned; and
  • The business owner must
    • possess requisite knowledge of the business and industry in which he or she is applying;
    • have day-to-day control over the business, exercising final authority over all aspects of daily operations, including but not limited to, operations, financial and business management, human resources and policy decisions;
    • demonstrate capability or expertise within the classifications identified (which can be found here) for a period of one year prior to certification; and
    • possess all licenses and permits required by law to perform the scope of work within classifications requested.
Minority groups with the MBE program:
    African American or Black
    • 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.

Benefits of MBE Certification

Certified MBE program participants are eligible for contract assistance, financial and bonding assistance, and management and technical assistance.

Eligibility for Set-Aside Contracts

  • Certified businesses are listed in a searchable database
  • Certified businesses have the opportunity to complete for 15 percent of state agencies' spending budgets in a sheltered bidding process

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:

  • Minority Business Bonding Program
  • 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 business 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 minority business development organizations that facilitate training, strategic management, networking and mentoring opportunities with major corporations

Steps for 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. 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

  1. Visit Ohio Business Gateway
  2. Log in using username and password (OH|ID)
  3. Ensure "Equal Opportunity Division" is among available service areas
  4. Ensure "Unified Application" is among available transaction types
  5. Ensure filing access (read, edit, submit) is available -- work with your account's Gateway filing administrator
  6. Select "Unified Application" and complete the form
  7. Click "File" button on the Summary page to see a confirmation page (and print completed application)
  8. 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 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.


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)