Small and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Certification Programs

What is the Small Business Enterprise Certification Program?

The city of Phoenix Small Business Enterprise (SBE) Program offers small local businesses opportunities for doing business with the city of Phoenix. It is applicable to procurement and contracting that occur using City funds and is only available to firms with a primary or principal location in Maricopa County. The Equal Opportunity Department certifies firms to participate in the SBE Program.  

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How can SBE certification benefit my business?

If you are the small business owner of a company that provides goods or services that the city of Phoenix purchases, you may benefit from these programs. The programs available for certified Small Business Enterprises (SBEs) include a reserve contract program for providers of goods and general services, and a subcontracting goals program for construction subcontractors.

The names of firms that are granted SBE certification are available to all city procurement personnel and prime contractors through an online directory located at phoenix.gov/CERTIFY.

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What programs are available for SBE-certified companies?

  1. Reserve Contract Program - The SBE Reserve Contract Program includes opportunities for goods and general services providers to participate in city procurement opportunities. Selected contracts are reserved by the Finance Department for competition only among certified SBE firms. The city reserves the right to award to bidders other than the low bidder if quality and qualifications are not equitable among bidders.  Call the Finance Department at 602-262-7181 for more information on the program.

  2. Subcontracting goals on public works construction projects – If you are a certified SBE construction subcontractor, your firm may be used to meet SBE subcontracting goals on selected public works contracts awarded by the city.

    Prime contractors who bid on city-funded construction projects must make good faith efforts to find and contract with SBE firms to meet goals established by the city. The goals will be established based on the trades necessary to the project and the availability of certified SBE firms in those trades. The online SBE Directory is available online at phoenix.gov/CERTIFY.

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Who qualifies for certification as a Small Business Enterprise?

Businesses that meet the following five criteria qualify for Small Business Enterprise certification:

Location
Businesses located in Maricopa County.

Group Membership
SBE applicants may be representative of all ethnic and gender groups.

Economic Disadvantage
The personal net worth of each owner must not exceed $1.32 million in order to show economic disadvantage eligibility for SBE certification. The owner’s equity interest in their primary residence and the value of the owner’s interest in the applicant business is not included when calculating the personal net worth for purposes of certification.

Operational Status
A business must have been in continuous operation for at least six months or have completed four business contracts.

Ownership/Control
The applicant owner(s) must be actively involved in the day-to-day control of the firm in the critical area(s) of operation. Administrative responsibilities alone are not sufficient to prove control. The applicant owner(s) must have technical knowledge and expertise in the company’s major business field. The capital to start or acquire the business must have been supplied by the qualifying owner(s).

Small Business Size
To qualify as a SBE, the gross receipts of the firm, when averaged over a three-year period, must not exceed gross income limitations for that type of business activity as identified by the U. S. Small Business Administration.

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What is the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program?

The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program is a federal program applicable to contracts administered by the city but paid for, in part or wholly, by federal funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT).   

This program is available to firms located in the United States that are certified through the Arizona Unified Certification Program (AZUCP) Program.  The AZUCP is a statewide one-stop certification process by the city of Phoenix, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) or the city of Tucson.

The city of Phoenix Equal Opportunity Department certifies firms to participate in the DBE Program. DBE certification is valid for contracts that the city awards that include funding from the USDOT Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The certification is valid on all contracts bid by the city of Phoenix that specify the utilization of DBE subcontractors for all USDOT-assisted contracts for highway, transit and airport programs.

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Who qualifies for certification as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise?

Businesses that meet the following five criteria qualify for Disadvantaged Business Enterprise certification:


Location
Firms located in the United States. 

Group Membership
Business owners that are citizens or permanent legal residents and are members of the following ethnic/gender groups:

African-American males and females
Native-American males and females
Caucasian females
Asian-American males and females
Hispanic males and females

Ownership/Control
Qualifying applicants must own at least 51 percent of the business. The owner(s) must have the day-to-day control of the firm and have experience and expertise in the firm’s primary area of operation. The applicant must hold a proportionate share of the business’ capital, assets, profits and losses commensurate with their ownership interest.

Business Size
To be recognized as a disadvantaged business for purposes of the DBE Certification program, the gross receipts of the firm, when averaged over a three-year period, must not exceed gross income limitations for that type of business activity as identified by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Social Disadvantage
Socially disadvantaged individuals are those who have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias because of their identity as a member of a group without regard to their individual qualities.

Economic Disadvantage
The personal net worth of the 51 percent or greater owner must not exceed $1.32 million in order to show economic disadvantaged eligibility for DBE certification. The owner’s equity interest in their primary residence and the value of the owner’s interest in the applicant business is not included when calculating the personal net worth for purposes of certification.

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What is the Arizona Unified Certification Program (AZUCP)?

The Arizona UCP was established to provide one-stop statewide Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program (DBE) certification. The city of Phoenix partners with the Arizona Department of Transportation and the city of Tucson for the Arizona UCP (AZUCP).

The program eliminates the need for DBE applicant businesses to obtain certification from multiple agencies and provides reciprocity within the state. The official UCP DBE database at www.azdbe.org includes DBE firms certified by these three agencies. Bidders who are meeting goals on Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) contracts can use DBEs certified by the Arizona UCP to meet established goals.

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How do I apply for certification?

Click on the link below to apply for certification.  

Certification workshops are held in the community on a monthly basis. These workshops walk applicants through the certification application and process. If you are interested in attending a workshop, call Equal Opportunity Department at 602-262-6790/voice or 602-534-1557/TTY or click on the second link below to download the workshop schedule.  

Application for Certification

2011 Certification Workshop Schedule

 

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What happens after I apply?

First-time applicants can expect to receive a final determination on their certification application within 16 weeks. During this time, you may be contacted to supply additional information and/or documentation. The staff person assigned to review your application will contact you to schedule an on-site visit to your principal place of business. In certain technical or highly specialized trade areas, a worksite visit may be necessary to determine the applicant’s expertise in the firm’s primary field of operation.

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How long is the certification valid?

Certification for SBEs and DBEs is valid for a period of five years, with an annual update required to maintain SBE or DBE status. If you qualify for certification, you will receive a letter and certificate showing your firm's expiration date.

The annual update process requires an update of information, a notarized affidavit, a Personal Financial Statement, and a copy of your latest tax return (business and/or personal). The annual update is required to continue certification through the expiration date.

It is the responsibility of certified firms to renew their certification. Recertification is an abbreviated process from the original application process, but does require more information than provided for the annual update. The renewal information must be received prior to the certification expiration date to ensure continuous certification. For more information, call the Equal Opportunity Department Business Relations Division at 602-262-6790.

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How will I know about upcoming business opportunities with the city?

Procurement 

If you offer commodities or general services, review Good/General Services Current Solicitations and Good/General Services Upcoming Solicitations on the Finance department website on a regular basis.  Please note that the Finance Department Purchasing Division does not send out notices of current solicitations or maintain a vendor list.  Internet access is available at all public libraries. 

The Purchasing Division offers open vendor hours from 1 to 3:30 p.m. every Wednesday at the city of Phoenix Finance Department located at 251 West Washington St., 8th Floor. 

Consulting and Construction Services

Firms interested in learning about opportunities to provide consulting or construction services on public works projects with the city of Phoenix should visit the Street Transportation Department website at phoenix.gov/streets/eassbe/index.html.  

Firms interested in learning about upcoming competitive bid construction projects also should go to phoenix.gov/streets/eassbe/index.html.  

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A message from the Equal Opportunity Director

Dear Business Partner:

Thank you for your interest in becoming certified as a Small or Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (SBE/DBE) with the city of Phoenix. The downloadable applications allow you to apply for certification as an SBE and/or DBE. Please read the following descriptions and indicate on your application the type(s) of certification for which you are applying. The applications contain line-by-line instructions to assist you in the process.

SBE Certification - Firms must be located in Maricopa County and must meet the small business size standards established by the U. S. Small Business Administration. Owners must submit information to verify that their personal net worth does not exceed $1.32 million, excluding the equity interest in their personal residence and the value of their ownership in the applicant business to be certified. SBE certification does not apply to federally assisted projects that require DBE participation.

DBE Certification - Qualified firms are eligible to participate in city of Phoenix business opportunities that specify DBE certification. There are no U. S. location requirements for DBE certification. Firms certified by any AZUCP members are eligible for participation on federally funded projects.  However, firms located outside of Maricopa County must be certified in their home state by an agency that certifies firms under the provisions of 49 CFR Part 26 and is recognized by the U.S. Department of Transportation as a DBE-certifying entity. The owners of a business seeking DBE certification must have a personal net worth of less than $1.32 million, excluding their equity interest in their primary residence and the value of their ownership interest in the applicant business to be certified.

Please read the instructions carefully to ensure that your applications are complete. Verifying documentation must be submitted with all certification applications.  The review process takes approximately 9-12 weeks and may include an on-site visit to your place of business if the firm is located in Maricopa County. 

You will receive written notification of the status of your application when the process is complete. If you have questions or would like assistance in the certification process, contact us at 602-262-6790/voice or 602-534-1557/TTY between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, Arizona time.

We appreciate your interest in our program.

Sincerely,

Lionel D. Lyons
Director