Public entities like the Federal Government, State of Colorado, the Regional Transportation District (RTD), Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), City and County of Denver and others receive funding for their construction projects via taxes or other fees. Because these fees are paid by most residents/business owners in the state there are programs that assist minority / woman-owned or small businesses by leveling the playing field when pursuing public projects.
To ensure that assistance programs are not abused, i.e. large companies posing as a small/minority /woman-owned company, public entities utilize certification. Certification is a rigorous examination of a company to verify that the ownership, management and size claims are true. It can take many months to receive certification because visits are made to the company requesting certification to verify that they have the experience, equipment, personnel, etc. to perform the work they state they can perform.
Size, ethnicity and gender matter when a company pursues construction projects:
When a company is certified as a small, minority or woman-owned company, they cannot be eliminated from consideration based on price alone.
Once you are certified by a public entity, your company is listed in their directory of certified companies. When the public entity puts a project out to bid, they generally set a goal for utilization of small/ minority or woman-owned companies. If a prime contractor/consultant is pursuing that project, they will search the public entity’s database of certified companies to see where there is a good fit between certified companies and various components of the project.
If you are not certified, the prime contractor/consultant cannot count your company’s participation on the project toward the goal they must achieve. Thus, without certification, you limit your opportunities.
Denver Water’s Small Business Enterprise Program and Minority and Women Business Enterprise Program seek to provide small businesses and businesses owned by minorities and women an opportunity to work for Denver Water as contractors, subcontractors and suppliers.
Your business plan should help you determine which certifications are best for you. RTD’s SBE and Denver’s M/WBE and SBE certifications are used on projects that are paid for with local money. The DBE certification is used when Federal money is used on a project. The 8(a) certification allows you to pursue federal projects throughout the U.S.