DBE Guidelines for New Orleans Small Businesses

Wayne EncalardeSmall Business Growth Manager Wayne Encalarde, Jr., explains why local small businesses should apply for DBE certification, as well as how NOLABA can guide them through the process:

The Disadvantaged Business programs were designed to give minority firms who have been historically and systematically denied access to procurement opportunities and capital a fair opportunity to compete. The various DBE programs are not designed to give smaller firms a competitive advantage, but instead to foster a more equitable and inclusive distribution of public procurement opportunities.

When small businesses apply to become a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), they have to understand it’s not a one-certification-fixes-all. It really depends on the procurement source and what certification is required to satisfy the procurement opportunity. For example, the City of New Orleans has the State and Local DBE program (SLDBE), which is a unified program with partners such as the Sewerage and Water Board, Harris Casino, RTA and the Aviation Board. The SLDBE is the most common, and it will satisfy most municipal contracts given by the City agencies.

The Unified Certification Program (LA UCP) comes through the Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) and is a federal certification for each state. For example, the expansion of Armstrong International Airport is through the City of New Orleans and the Federal Aviation Administration, so the SLDBE does not meet the procurement requirements. Firms wanting to participate and get credit for DBE status must have the LA UCP DBE certification.

Section 3 from Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) is another DBE certification program. Their certification is also federal because HANO falls under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. HANO being a city agency shows reciprocity to the city’s SLDBE program with relation to their procurement opportunities.

Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) program, Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB), 8(A) Program, and Veteran Owned Businesses (VOB) are all Federal DBE programs that are certified through the Small Business Administration (SBA). These certifications are for federal contracts issued from the federal government directly through fed.biz.opps. A firm must first have a DUNS number from Duns and Bradstreet in order to create their account on Sam.gov and bid on federal procurement. Once a firm has an active account, it can apply for the DBE certifications through SBA as well as other procurement opportunities.

In conclusion, the kind of DBE certification required for your business will depend on the source of the funding for the procurement opportunity. There are several other certifications that apply specifically to other state and local agencies. NOLABA has a list of these diverse certifying agencies on our website that will provide instructions to apply to each program. And as always, you can contact us if you have any questions.

DBE, economic development, nolaba, small business, wayne encalarde


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