Diversity Bridge: Empowering Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business

Businesses that are women- or minority-owned have the opportunity to tap into a number of public and private sector programs. Corporations, the federal government, state agencies all want to do business with these enterprises. If you are a woman- or minority-owned company that might be considering the benefits of being a certified enterprise, this information is specifically for you.

National Minority Supplier Development Council Certification

If you are interested in connecting with a number of private-sector corporations and companies, this certification can be a tremendous asset. The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) has an extensive list of corporate members that want to work with MBEs.

Somers L. Martin, director of business development services for the Columbus Chamber

Who is eligible: For-profit enterprises of any size that are located in the United States and owned, operated, and controlled by minority group members who are citizens of the United States.

Ohio Department of Administrative Services Certification

Certification with the Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS) is the gateway to access state contracting opportunities.

Who is eligible: For-profit enterprise that has been in business for at least one year, 51 percent owned by a minority group member, is an Ohio resident and US citizen with a personal net worth of less than $250,000. If the company is owned and controlled by a minority or person of social disadvantage, the company will also be certified as EDGE.

Ohio Department of Transportation’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program

Departments that receive DOT funding, such as state transportation agencies, must have Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) programs in order to assure they are complying with this requirement.

Who is eligible: Small business that is at least 51 percent owned by a socially and economically disadvantaged individual(s), defined as someone who is a member of a minority group, a woman, or, in some cases, has a disability and a net worth of less than $750,000. The disadvantaged person must be in control of their business and able to direct the management of the firm.

City of Columbus Equal Business Opportunity Certification

This application/certification is used by the City of Columbus, Equal Business Opportunity to assist these companies in participating in local contracts.

Who is eligible: For-profit business that is at least 51 percent owned by one or more persons of an eligible racial minority or female gender; managed and controlled by that individual seeking certification; has been in business in the Columbus MSA for at least three months. The Columbus MSA includes Franklin, Delaware, Fairfield, Fayette, Licking, Madison, Pickaway and Union counties.

So, how do you determine which certifications for which your business may be eligible? You might start by completing a short Pre-Certification Questionnaire on the Diversity Bridge. The Diversity Bridge is an economic development initiative of the Columbus Chamber that provides access to a host of resources, including a one-stop certification application. Using the Pre-Certification Questionnaire, a user can discover which certifications they are most eligible for and then begin the process of pursuing their certification by providing their information one time for multiple certifications.

The Diversity Bridge initiative is funded in part by a grant from the City of Columbus and Nationwide Insurance.

For more information about the Diversity Bridge, please contact Somers L. Martin, director of business development services for the Columbus Chamber at 614-225-6919.

Author Bio: Somers L. Martin:

Somers L. Martin is the director of business development services for the Columbus Chamber. Somers works on behalf of small- and medium-sized businesses to ensure they have the resources they need to grow. Through Columbus Chamber programs such as the Small Business Council and Diversity Bridge, she links businesses to various resources and information, and assists them with problem solving. Somers has been with the Chamber since 2007.