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Washington, DC
Large construction companies are looking to work with subcontractors who hold certain certifications. The reason is that each project has requirements imposed by the city or state where it is located, in example, the city of Washington, DC requires that local government contracts in excess of $ 250,000 subcontract 35% of the dollar value to small businesses certified under the CBE (Certified Business Enterprise) Program https://dslbd.dc.gov/page/cbe-compliance). The goal of each DC agency is to award 50 % of the dollar volume of its goods and services, including construction goods and services, to Small Business Enterprises (SBEs).

The problem for large construction companies is when they cannot find the CBE Certified companies and cannot comply with the requirement imposed by the city, that leads to fines and penalties. While it is true, there are ways to prove that there are not enough small CBEs and obtain exemptions, but it is a process that costs time, money and requires that personnel assigned to the project be reassigned to obtain the exemption.
How does this benefit small businesses like yours?
Well, if large companies are looking for small firms with the CBE certification, you can become a CBE and work with them.

CBE certification is granted by a DC government agency called DSLBD (Department of Small and Local Business Development). The first step is to qualify as a Local Business Enterprise (LBE). After all the LBE requirements are met, a company can apply to obtain other certifications, such as:   

  • SBE certification, which is for small businesses,
  • DBE certification, which is for disadvantaged enterprises, either socially or economically,
  • WBE certification which is for women-owned companies (at least 51%),
  • MBE certification, which is for companies whose owner is of African American, Hispanic, or other minorities,
  • ROB certification, which is Resident-owned Business Enterprise,
  • DZE certification for business enterprises located within a Development Enterprise Zone,
  • LRB certification for Longtime Resident Business Enterprise,
  • VOB certification, which is for Veteran-owned Business Enterprise, and/or
  • LME certification Local Manufacturing Business Enterprise.

Each certification grants preference points, that may go from 2 to 5 points, or percentages that goes from 2% to 10%. More points mean more opportunities to get a contract.
The CBE business are certified for 3 years and can get recertified.

The Certification Division is responsible for the administration of Virginia’s business certification programs. The certifications granted include:

  • SWaM: Small, Woman-owned, and Minority-owned Businesses. There are other certifications awarded under this program:  Micro Business certification, Small Business certification, and Service Disabled Veterans certification.

  • DBE: Disadvantaged Business Enterprises
  • ESO: Employment Services Organizations certification for companies that provide community-based employment services to individuals with disabilities.

The Office of the Minority Business Enterprise (OMBE), a division of the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), serves as Maryland’s official certification agency. Certifications are awarded to Small Business, Minority- and Women-owned businesses, that meet the eligibility criteria.

There are other certifications that an entrepreneur should consider growing his company, for example, the WMATA (Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority) certification to work with Metro or the MWAA (Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority) certification to work in the airports.

Other certifications are a Federal level,

8(a) Business Development (BD) certification for firms that are owned and controlled at least 51% socially and economically disadvantaged individual(s),

Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) certification for WOSBs in industries where firms are underrepresented. WOSBs must be at least 51% owned and controlled by women.

Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBzone) certification for small businesses in economically depressed communities.

As you can see, there is a way for a small business to work with large companies. This path begins with registering the company, obtaining the contractor’s licenses, and continuing with the certifications. Obtaining certifications will give small business an advantage over its competitors.

We can help you to obtain the certifications, contact us now!

(571) 332-0083 -   edith@latinasinconstruction.net
1050 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 500. Washington DC 20036
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