SBA removes certification hurdles for disadvantaged firms

Companies that already have small, disadvantaged business certification at the Transportation Department now face fewer obstacles to gain certification from the Small Business Administration.

An agreement signed Tuesday by DOT and SBA streamlines the process for certifying small, disadvantaged businesses across federal agencies.

The agreement allows small businesses that have been certified under the Transportation Department's Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program to qualify for the SBA's Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) designation without filling out a new set of paperwork and restarting the certification process, SBA spokesman D.J. Caulfield said. Companies may be required to submit brief supplemental information for requirements unique to SBA, he said.

SBA is seeking similar agreements with other agencies that have Disadvantaged Business Enterprise programs, Caulfield said. SDB status offers companies benefits such as tax breaks and opportunities to win contracts that specify an award to a small, disadvantaged, or woman- or minority-owned business.

Nearly 8,000 small firms are certified by the SBA as small, disadvantaged businesses. About 50,000 firms have received DOT's Disadvantaged Business Enterprise certification from department-assisted state and local transportation agencies. The agreement connects the two programs.

The federal government provided small, disadvantaged businesses with more than $11 billion in contracting opportunities in 1998. DOT awards about $3 billion a year in contracts for federally assisted state and local transportation projects to certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise firms.

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