Small, minority- and women-owned firms that meet the eligibility standards of the MBE Program are encouraged to seek certification. Eligibility is determined by minority status, ownership, control, size and personal net worth of the minority owner(s).
The certification process is structured to ensure that only those businesses meeting all the requirements set forth under State law may participate in the program. The Office of Minority Business Enterprise (OMBE), a division of the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), serves as Maryland’s official certification agency. Upon receiving certification, firms are automatically listed in the online directory. OMBE will reassess certified firms annually and they may remain in the MBE Program as long as they continue to meet the eligibility standards. After initial certification, MBEs are encouraged to seek an Expansion of Services anytime they add new products or services.
To assist firms interested in seeking MBE certification, MDOT hosts a free Application Assistance Workshop on the first Tuesday of every month. Complete details about the eligibility standards, the certification process and a variety of other useful resources are available online at www.mdot.maryland.gov (MBE tab).
MBE certification is not a guarantee. It is, however, a very valuable tool for minority- and women-owned businesses seeking State procurement and contracting opportunities. MBE firms are able to distinguish themselves from their competitors because, while any business may perform on a State contract, only MBE certified firms can fulfill minority participation goals. Factors such as pricing, capabilities, past performance and availability are important to the success of every business, and the most successful companies know how to leverage their MBE status as a “value added” component to all the other attributes they bring to the table.
Certified MBE firms are listed in an online directory. The directory identifies the specific work the MBE is certified to do in addition to all relevant contact information. This directory is utilized by government procurement officials in the counties, cities and municipalities as well as the State. It is also an important tool for private sector companies that value supplier diversity.
MBEs have exclusive access to a unique loan program called the Linked Deposit Program. Administered through the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), this loan program is a statewide initiative designed to increase access to affordable capital. Qualified borrowers receive a 2 percent discount on specified loans from participating banks. DHCD offers a number of loans and business growth tools to help new and expanding small businesses improve and revitalize existing commercial districts and town centers. Visit their Business Lending webpage to learn more.
Every State agency staffs an MBE Liaison. The liaison is well versed on the MBE Program’s best practices and understands the procurement process. Liaisons provide direction and guidance to buyers in their agency. They also advocate for MBEs and help solve any problems that may arise during the term of the contract.
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