DBE Certifications in Arizona

Businesses based in Arizona may qualify for Diverse Business Enterprise Certification (DBE) if they meet four qualifications:

  1. A firm must be a minority or woman-owned business or owned by a majority owner who can demonstrate social and economic disadvantage.
  2. The disadvantaged owner must own at least 51% of the business enterprise.
  3. The disadvantaged owner must manage, operate, and control the managerial and daily operational functions of the firm.
  4. The owner’s personal net worth must be below $1,320,000.

Construction-related companies face a couple of additional requirements. First, these companies must have less than $23,980,000 in annual gross receipts over the last three years. Second, the disadvantaged owner must possess required licenses for running the company, and must manage both day-to-day operations as well as long-term components such as management and strategy.

Program Advantages

Certified businesses will qualify to meet subcontracting goals for U.S. Department of Transportation-assisted construction projects and they will be listed in the UCP Directory, which is used by governmental, public, and private procurement entities soliciting bids on projects.

By receiving DBE Certification, ‘disadvantaged’ small business owners may access an array of opportunities to increase their cooperation and work opportunities with local and state governments of Arizona.

Statewide Certification Programs

Arizona Unified Certification Program (AZ UCP)

The AZ UCP functions as a “one-stop-shop” for DBE certification throughout Arizona, so a company can apply once for DBE certification and when granted it applies throughout the state. Qualifying applicants receive recognition from each state agency that receives federal funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation. This makes it easy for qualified businesses to apply for multiple opportunities.

The AZ UCP works through three specific agencies: (1) the Arizona Department of Transportation ADOT which includes the major airports; (2) the City of Phoenix which includes all of Maricopa County; and (3) the City of Tucson. If your company is located in Phoenix, Maricopa County, or Tucson, then you should apply directly through their agencies – it’s the same process. If your company is not located in these two cities, either elsewhere in the state or in another US state, then you may apply through the ADOT. Documents that are required to apply for the program vary depending on the type of company.

There are four steps in the application process:

  1. Complete the UCP certification application and provide the required documents.
  2. An audit of the documentation will be conducted to determine preliminary eligibility.
  3. An on-site visit/review by a UCP Specialist will be performed to determine program compliance and eligibility.
  4. Once eligibility is determined and all program requirements are met a certificate of participation will be issued.

Arizona Small Business Concern (AZ SBC)

Small businesses can expedite the DBE Certification application process by participating in the Arizona Small Business Concern program. The purpose of this program is to streamline the AZ UCP’s red tape for goods and services companies that participate in federal-aid projects. To apply, the business owner should register for the AZ UTRACS (this is already required for the AZ UCP process), answer a few additional questions, and describe your business, including the business size, services offered, owner’s contact information, as well as an indication that you meet the Small Business Administration’s average annual income standards.

Local and Regional Programs

Phoenix DBE Programs

The city of Phoenix offers a DBE Certification Program that certifies socially (minority and woman-owned firms) and economically disadvantaged business owners who want to do business with the city of Phoenix. It’s available to firms located throughout the United States that have completed the Arizona Unified Certification Program (AZUCP) process, discussed above. AZUCP is a one-stop, statewide that lets you apply to one or all of the city of Phoenix, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) and the city of Tucson.

Phoenix’s DBE certification is valid for all U. S. Department of Transportation contracts for highway, transit, and airport programs.  These include funding from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The certification is valid on all contracts that specify the utilization of DBE subcontractors.

Sky Harbor Airport DBE Programs

The Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE) Program is available for socially and economically disadvantaged businesses whose activity is relevant to the airport’s concessions program. It covers the Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix as well as Goodyear and Deer Valley General Aviation airports. The certification process is the same as with the cities of Phoenix and Tucson, making it easy to apply to various projects statewide.

City of Tucson DBE Programs

Tucson’s DBE program was implemented to create equal opportunity for those DBE firms doing business with the City of Tucson on projects receiving federal financial assistance. Like with the city of Phoenix and the airports/Department of Transportation, once you qualify in Tucson you are also able to apply for DBE projects from Phoenix and the statewide Department of Transportation.  The qualification requirements are identical to the other entities.

The Arizona Women’s Education and Entrepreneur Center (AWEEC)

AWEEC http://aweecenter.org/ is hosted by Arizona Women’s Education and Employment (AWEE) and is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Its mission is to help women-owned small businesses in the Phoenix community through business training and workshops, one-on-one counseling, online programs, mentoring and support networks, and financial assistance to women-owned socially and/or economically disadvantaged businesses. Visit the site linked above to apply.

Pacific Southwest Minority Supplier Development Council

Businesses that are at least 51% owned by one or more ethnic minorities can get an MBE certification from the Minority Supplier Development Council (MSDC). This national organization offers minority business certifications for companies across all of Arizona through its location in Scottsdale. Eligibility is established by conducting a series of screenings, interviews and site visits. To apply, click here or visit http://pswmsdc.org.

Arizona Small Business Association DBE Programs

The Arizona Small Business Association offers certifications to woman, veteran, and minority-owned businesses, as well as small businesses. These SBA-approved certifications can help businesses find greater opportunities for government and public contracting through the state. To apply, visit http://www.asba.com/

Arizona Small Business Development Center (AZBSDC)

The AZSBDC Network is an innovative partnership between eight of the state’s community college districts, one non-profit, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the U.S. Department of Defense. ZPTAC is fully accredited by the America’s SBDC, a national system that connects 63 SBDC networks across the country. The statewide program works with small business owners to help them realize the opportunities of government contracting.  They provide confidential, no cost, counseling and resource assistance to the small business community throughout Arizona, including help with DBE certification.

You can visit one of the ten SBDC Service Centers located in Casa Grande, Flagstaff, Kingman, Phoenix, Prescott, Show Low, Sierra Vista, Thatcher, Tucson and Yuma, or the larger AZPTAC locations is located in Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix, Sierra Vista, Tucson and Yuma. Visit http://www.azsbdc.net to contact the location nearest to you.

Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT)’s Business Engagement and Compliance Office (BECO)

BECO aims to recruit more socially and economically disadvantaged business owners with DBE certification. Due to the large volume of projects that ADOT will contract out over the next few years, they realize that they need more DBE Certified business to handle this volume of work to meet federal requirements. In January of 2018 BECO became a unit within ADOT’s new Employee and Business Development (EBD) Group to emphasize more recruiting and training for DBE certification. To start the process, first register as a vendor at the AZ UTRACS website.