The state of Georgia does not have a Small Business Enterprise (SBE) designation. Alternatively, Georgia provides the certification of a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE). The certification is awarded by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT). Additionally, qualifying Georgia businesses may also be eligible for a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certification, but only after the DBE is approved.

To qualify for a DBE certification, for-profit small businesses must meet the following criteria:

  • Be at least 51% owned by one or more individuals who are socially or economically disadvantaged. In the instance of corporations, 51% of the stock must be owned by one or multiple such individuals.
  • Small businesses that are operated day-to-day by the owners, who are individuals that are socially or economically disadvantaged.

Socially and economically disadvantaged individuals are identified as US citizens or lawful permanent residents who are:

  • “Asian-Pacific Americans”
  • “Black Americans”
  • “Hispanic Americans”
  • “Native Americans”
  • “Subcontinent Asian Americans”
  • Women
  • And any individual who the government may determine to be socially or economically disadvantaged on a case-by-case basis.

How Does the State of GA Define a Small Business?

Georgia proudly considers itself the very best state for business in America. Small businesses make up approximately 99% of all businesses across the state of Georgia and employ nearly half of the state’s resident employees.

The state of Georgia defines a small business as one that is independently owned and operated, has no more than 300 employees, and makes less than $30 million in yearly gross receipts. Georgia does not require a small business license.

What are the Benefits of Having a DBE Certified Business?

It’s difficult to run a small business in America. And small business owners who are from groups that are historically disadvantaged both economically and socially have even steeper hills to climb. The DBE certification can help them.

The Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council (GMSDC) is a leading advocacy organization for small businesses run by minorities and the disadvantaged. Businesses that are DBE certified will gain extra attention from being in the GMSDC database.

Additionally, there are certain contractor openings only available to those with an MBE certification.

How Do You Obtain a DBE Certification?

If you meet the necessary requirements, you may be able to apply for DBE certification with the state. To get started, first contact the Team Georgia Marketplace and explain your interest in obtaining a DBE certification. Then, go to the DBE website, download the application packet, fill it out, and send it in.

The state will review your application. In their examination, they may ask you for further documentation to better prove your qualifications. When that is done satisfactorily, a DBE Coordinator will schedule an on-site inspection of your small business. During this visit, the DBE official will attempt to verify that everything in your application is correct and that your business does indeed qualify for a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise certification.

With this and all steps throughout the process, you and your small business may benefit from the legal assistance of attorneys with experience in the practice area of business law.