Ohio DBE: Unified Certification Program

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise?

A disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) is a for-profit small business concern that is:

  1. at least 51% owned by one or more individuals who are both socially and economically disadvantaged; and
  2. whose management and daily business operations are controlled by one or more of the socially and economically disadvantaged individuals who own it.

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What are the objectives of the DBE Program?

The objectives of the DBE Program are to:

  1. ensure nondiscrimination in the award and administration of contracts
  2. create a level playing field on which DBEs can compete fairly for contracts
  3. ensure that the Department's DBE program is narrowly tailored
  4. ensure that only firms that fully meet the eligibility standards are permitted to participate as DBEs
  5. help remove barriers to participation of DBEs in contracting
  6. assist in the development of firms that can compete successfully in the marketplace outside the DBE Program

Note: A firm is not considered "small business concern" if it has annual gross receipts in excess of $17,420,000 for general construction or in excess of $4,000,000 for engineering, architectural and surveying firms averaged over the previous three fiscal years. An economically disadvantaged individual is one whose personal net worth does not exceed $750,000. Personal net worth excludes the individual's ownership interest in the applicant DBE firm, and the individual's equity in his or her primary place of residence.


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Who qualifies to be a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise?

Socially and economically disadvantaged individuals are those who are (in addition to being economically disadvantaged) citizens of the United States who are:

  • found to be socially and economically disadvantaged on a case-by-case basis.
  • Individuals in the following groups, of which are rebuttably presumed to be socially and economically disadvantaged:
  • Black Americans, which includes persons having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa
  • Hispanic Americans, which includes persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Central or South American, or other Spanish or Portuguese culture or origin, regardless of race
  • Native Americans, which includes persons who are American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts or Native Hawaiians
  • Asian-Pacific Americans, which includes persons who origins are from Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Burma (Myanmar), Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia (Kampuchea), Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, Samoa, Guam, the US Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands (Republic of Palau), the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Island, Macao, Fiji, Tonga, Kirbati, Juvalu, Nauru, Federated States of Micronesia, or Hong Kong.
  • Subcontinent Asian Americans, which includes persons whose origins are from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives Islands, Nepal or Sri Lanka
  • Women
  • Any additional groups whose members are designated as socially and economically disadvantaged by the SBA, at such time as the SBA designation becomes effective.

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What are the benefits of being a certified DBE?

  • DBE contracts and subcontracts count toward project DBE/UDBE goals.
  • DBEs may participate in a variety of supportive services such as training and technical assistance.
  • DBEs receive numerous special mailings containing information on contracting and other opportunities.
  • ODOT's monthly DBE Certified List is used by many firms to locate subcontractors for their projects.

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How can I apply for DBE certification?

The Ohio Department of Transportation's Office of Contracts, DBE Section, processes DBE certification applications for ODOT. To receive an application, go to the forms page or call 614-466-3778.The Ohio Department of Transportation's Office of Contracts, DBE Section, processes DBE certification applications for the majority of DBE certified firms in the state of Ohio.

Applications can be submitted online or printed and mailed to The Ohio Department of Transportation. If you'd like to print the application, you can download it from the forms section of this Web site.


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What is the DBE Certification Process?

  • Step 1 - Application is received
  • Step 2 - Application is checked for completeness. If incomplete, the applicant is sent a letter requesting the missing information.
  • Step 3 - Once the application is complete an on-site review is scheduled and conducted at the applicant's office. During the on-site review, interviews are conducted with the owners of the firm.
  • Step 4 - All materials submitted by the applicant and the on-site report are reviewed by the investigator, who determines if the applicant meets the eligibility standards. The investigator also reviews the work classification(s) requested and makes a recommendation regarding the adequacy of the applicant's resources to perform in these work areas.
  • Step 5 - The investigator reviews the application and makes a decision on the firm's eligibility for certification in the DBE program.
  • Step 6 - If the application is approved, the applicant is notified, in writing, of the certification approval.

The certification approval letter clearly indicates approval of the firm as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) to perform work in specific types of work and the expiration date of the certification. The firm is certified as a DBE for a three year period, however certain information must be submitted to ODOT each year during the period, in order to remain an active DBE.

If an applicant is denied certification, the Department issues a denial letter listing the reasons for the intended denial and provides information related to the appeal process.


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How can I get more information about ODOT's DBE Program?

To obtain additional information regarding the Ohio DBE program, contact The Ohio Department of Transportation's DBE section by phone at (614) 728-9598 or by e-mail at support@ohioucp.org.


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