Minority, Women, and Small Business Enterprise Certifications

Department of Economic Inclusion Business Certification Programs

The Department of Economic Inclusion administers three business enterprise programs with a total of five (5) certification types.  The City’s current inclusion programs, which are designed to help meet the needs of our diverse community, became effective January 1, 2016. The goal of these programs is to expand opportunities for small, minority-owned, and women-owned businesses as both subcontractors and prime contractors on City projects.  DEI will consider all certification types for which a business may qualify from a single application if all required documents are provided.  Firms interested in SBE certification in addition to any other certification type should submit the SBE application and, if also seeking MBE or WBE certification, it should upload to the application as an additional document a completed Affidavit of Ethnicity and Gender, which can be downloaded here.

Applications must be completed online.

Before applying online, review the eligibility requirements of each certification type and program benefits below, then start your application to review a list of required documents.

MBE/WBE/SBE APPLICATION

The business enterprise programs and the criteria for each certification type are summarized below.  Please refer to Cincinnati Municipal Code (CMC) chapters 323 and 324, the SBE Rules and Regulations, and the MBE/WBE Rules and Regulations for more comprehensive information about the programs and eligibility criteria.

 

Minority and Women Business Enterprise Program

Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Eligibility Requirements

  • At least 51% owned by defined minority group member(s) for at least one (1) year prior to applying for certification.
  • Must have an operating office in Hamilton County or 25% of the firm’s total labor force must be domiciled in Hamilton County.
  • Business must be in operation for at least one (1) year prior to applying for certification.
  • Business must perform a Commercially Useful Function as defined by the Municipal Code.
  • With narrow exceptions, the business must be owned exclusively by individuals.

Women Business Enterprise (WBE) Eligibility Requirements

  • At least 51% women-owned for one (1) year.
  • Must have an office in Hamilton County or 25% of the firm’s total labor force must be domiciled in Hamilton County.
  • Business must be in operation for at least one (1) year prior to applying for certification.
  • Business must perform a Commercially Useful Function as defined by the Municipal Code.
  • With narrow exceptions, business must be owned exclusively by individuals.

 

 

Small Business Enterprise Program

Small Business Enterprise (SBE) Eligibility Requirements

  • Average annual gross revenues not greater than size standards established by the Small Business Administration for the applicable industry.
  • Must have had a Fixed Office in Hamilton County (as defined by the SBE Rules and Regulations) for at least one (1) year prior to applying for certification.
  • Business must be in operation for at least one (1) year prior to applying for certification.
  • Personal net worth of each owner and his or her spouse cannot exceed $750,000, exclusive of specified assets (equity in primary residence, retirement accounts subject to a significant withdrawal penalty, equity in the business for which they are applying).
  • Each owner must be a citizen of the United States.

 

Local Business Enterprise Program

Emerging Local Business Enterprise (ELBE) Eligibility Requirements

  • Must have its principal place of business within the corporate limits of the City of Cincinnati (“Cincinnati”) or 25% of the firm’s total labor force must be domiciled in Cincinnati.
  • Has had no more than five (5) full-time employees at any point.
  • Average annual gross revenues over the life of the business of less than $250,000.
  • Owners are actively involved in the day-to-day management and control of the business.
  • Owners cannot be owners or principals of another entity that does not meet the definition of an ELBE.
  • Business cannot be owned in whole or in part by another business that does not meet the definition of an ELBE.
  • Has been in existence less than five (5) years.

Small Local Business Enterprise (SLBE) Eligibility Requirements

  • Must have its principal place of business within the corporate limits of the City of Cincinnati (“Cincinnati”) or 25% of the firm’s total labor force must be domiciled in Cincinnati.
  • Average annual gross revenues of over the past three fiscal years of less than $1,000,000.
  • Owners are actively involved in the day-to-day management and control of the business.
  • Business must be in operation for at least one (1) year prior to applying for certification.
  • Has had no more than 35 employees at any one time during the past three years.
  • Owners cannot be owners or principals of another entity that does not meet the definition of an SLBE.
  • Business cannot be owned in whole or in part by another business that does not meet the definition of an SLBE.

 

Program Benefits

  • A bidder’s certification status is one factor for determining the “Lowest & Best” bid.
  • A bidder’s proposed utilization of certified firms as subcontractors towards the applicable inclusion goal for that contract is a factor for determining the “Lowest & Best” bid.
  • Certified firms are listed in the city’s public database of certified firms.
  • Price preferences and preference points available to MBE/WBE bidders and respondents to City solicitations.
  • Specific contracting advantages for SBEs for contracts under $50,000.
  • Eligible to participate in designated sheltered markets (ELBE & SLBE only).

 

All business certifications are administered by the Department of Economic Inclusion and further details about certification eligibility can be found in Chapters 323 and 324 of the Cincinnati Municipal Code. For more detailed information about how certification is utilized during the City’s procurement process, see Chapter 321 of the Cincinnati Municipal Code.

Certification Related Documents

These documents will be available through the online application system.

Affidavit of Ethnicity and Gender (MBE/WBE Only)

Personal Financial Statement (SBE Only)