So you think that getting government certification will put your small business on Easy Street? It doesn’t exactly work that way, but it can’t hurt, according to experts in the field.
A small business may seek any or all of the seven certifications available through federal, state, county, city, quasi-governmental or nonprofit entities. They may offer certification to minority-owned, woman-owned and veteran-owned businesses, those owned by someone with a substantial physical disability, and those located in an area with high unemployment. The business may have been in operation for three years, one year or even less, depending on the certifying body’s requirements.
Barb Lau, executive director of the Association of Women Contractors, recommends that businesses start the certification process by determining the type of customer they’re seeking and applying for the certification required by that customer.
For example, four certification programs can put a certified business in the running to win a job on the $763 million Minnesota Multipurpose (Vikings) Stadium in Minneapolis. Those are:
- Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, commonly known as DBE, issued by a variety of agencies to certify a company to work on federally funded construction projects.
- Targeted Group Business, or TGB, issued by the state Department of Administration.
- Central Certification Program, or CERT, administered by the city of St. Paul and used by the city and Ramsey and Hennepin counties).
- Veteran-owned businesses may apply to the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization operated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Qualifying for DBE status helped Vogel Sheetmetal Inc. of Stillwater win its first government-funded contract, according to company CEO Bonnie Vogel.