Learn about diversity programs for suppliers.

Historically, certain groups of business owners have been systematically left out of contracting opportunities. Now many government entities and corporations have supplier diversity programs.

To take advantage of these programs, you must have your business certified by a third-party certifying agency.

Certifying agencies

Central Certification Program (CERT)

The Central Certification (CERT) Program includes certification for Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs), Women's Business Enterprises (WBEs), and Small Business Enterprises (SBEs). CERT is managed by the City of St. Paul and is recognized by the City of St. Paul, Ramsey County, and Hennepin County.

Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)

A Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) is a business that is at least 51% owned and controlled by a socially and economically disadvantaged individual, according to the criteria of the Small Business Administration (SBA). This certification is accepted by the City of Minneapolis’ Small and Underutilized Business Program (SUBP), and recognized by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Metropolitan Airports Commission, Metropolitan Council, and City of Minneapolis through the Minnesota United Certification Program (MnUCP).

LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE)

An LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE) is a business that is at least 51% owned, operated, managed, and controlled by a person (or persons) who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. The owner(s) must be U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents; the business must be independent from any non-LGBT business enterprise; and the business must have its principal place of business in the United States. The local agency to contact to certify your business as an LGBTBE is Quorum.

Minority Business Enterprise (MBE)

A Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) is a business that is owned by a U.S. citizen who is Asian, Black or African American, Latino, or Native American. To qualify as an MBE, at least 51% of the business must be owned by a member or members of one of these groups. The local agency to certify your business as an MBE is the North Central Minority Supplier Diversity Council (NCMSDC).

Targeted Group/Economically Disadvantaged/Veteran-Owned Businesses (TG/ED/VO)

The Minnesota Office of State Procurement (OSP) operates a program for small businesses that are members of a targeted group, economically disadvantaged, or veteran-owned. OSP certifies businesses directly for the TG/ED/VO program. Once a business is certified by OSP, businesses may receive up to a 6% preference in competing for contracts with the State of Minnesota and can be counted toward supplier diversity goals set on subcontracting for larger projects.

Women's Business Enterprise (WBE)

A Women's Business Enterprise (WBE) is a business that is at least 51% owned, operated, and controlled by a woman or women. The local agency to contact to certify your business as a WBE is the Women's Business Development Center (WBDC)

Certification help

An advisor at one of the City's Business Technical Assistance Program (B-TAP) partners can assist you with get certified. In addition, the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) assists businesses get government contracts. This includes help with W/MBE certification processes.

Contact the Small Business Team for help

Contact us

Small Business Team

Community Planning & Economic Development




Public Service Building
505 Fourth Ave. S., Room 320
Minneapolis, MN 55415