DBE Certifications in Colorado

Colorado has a program that sets annual quotas to dictate the amount of overall Department of Transportation funds and other State agency funds that are allocated toward DBE certified (and thus, minority run) businesses. The current requirements of the Colorado Department of Transportation are for 11.7 percent of all Federal Highway Agency contracts to be allocated toward DBE certified businesses and 7.13 percent of Federal Transportation Agency contracts. These percentages differ for other state and regional procurement programs. Collectively, these programs provide opportunities for ‘disadvantaged’ owners to excel their small businesses with government contracts.

Statewide Certification Programs

Colorado Unified Certification Program (UCP)

In efforts to increase cooperation between minority-run businesses and the government, the State of Colorado has established the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Certification program. This was established when the Colorado Department of Transportation entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with partnering DBE certifying agencies across the state. The UCP eliminates the need for DBE applicants to obtain certification from multiple agencies. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the City and County of Denver (CCD) are the certifying agencies for the Colorado UCP. CCD is the only certifying agency for Denver International Airport (DIA) Airport Concession DBEs (ACDBEs).

To qualify for DBE certification, the business owner should apply through the UCP program. The UCP functions as a “one stop shop” for DBE certification throughout the state of Colorado, so a company can apply once for DBE certification and when granted it applies throughout the state.   In fact, it allows firms interested in seeking certification as both a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) to simultaneously complete the Uniform Certification Application.  Additionally, if you have been granted DBE status in another state, you can apply through the UCP to have it recognized by the state of Colorado. Basic eligibility requirements include:

  • For-profit small business concern as defined by the U.S. Small Business Administration (based upon NAICS)
  • At least 51% owned by one or more individuals who are both socially and economically disadvantaged. Minorities and women are presumed to be socially disadvantaged.
  • Management and daily business operations are controlled by one or more of the socially and economically disadvantaged individuals who own it.
  • The disadvantaged owner(s) must have a personal net-worth of less than $1,320,000.
  • Depending upon the nature of work performed, a firm (including its affiliates) must not have average annual gross receipts in excess of $22,410,000 ($52,470,000 for airport concessionaires in general with some exceptions). This size standard is for construction related work. Depending on the type of work the business performs, other lower size standards may apply.
  • If state or local law requires the persons to have a particular license or other credential in order to own and/or control the firm, then the socially and economically disadvantaged owner(s) must possess the required license or credentials.

There are four steps of 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.

The biggest provider of DBE projects is the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and it requires certification through the UCP. C0DOT’s DBE Program was established by the federal government to ensure women- and minority-owned businesses have the opportunity to participate in contracts financed in whole or in part by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Local and Regional Programs

City of Denver Office of Economic Development (OED)

The OED serves as the City of Denver’s primary advocate for small, local, minority and women-owned companies including prime contractors, subcontractors, and joint venture partners. OED provides support for small, local, minority-owned and women-owned companies seeking to do business with Denver’s municipal agencies by expanding contracting opportunities and increasing the procurement dollars spent with minority and women-owned companies. To get certified as a DBE with the OED, there’s a $200 application fee.

City of Colorado Springs

The City of Colorado Springs has established a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program in accordance with regulations of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). It is the policy of the City of Colorado Springs to ensure that DBEs are defined in part 26, have an equal opportunity to receive and participate in DOT-assisted contracts. It is also their policy:

  1. To ensure nondiscrimination in the award and administration of DOT-assisted contracts;
  2. To create a level playing field on which DBEs can compete fairly for DOT-assisted contracts;
  3. To ensure that the DBE Program is narrowly tailored in accordance with applicable law;
  4. To ensure that only firms that fully meet 49 CFR Part 26 eligibility standards are permitted to participate as DBEs;
  5. To help remove barriers to the participation of DBEs in DOT assisted contracts;
  6. To assist the development of firms that can compete successfully in the market place outside the DBE Program.

Predominantly Colorado Springs relies on the UCP for certification. However there may be other options for certification identified by calling their cognizant program officer, who is Andrea Davenport the FTA (Transit) DBE Liaison Officer (DBELO). She can be reached at (719) 385-5275 or [email protected]. In that capacity, she is responsible for implementing all aspects of the DBE program. Implementation of the DBE program is accorded the same priority as compliance with all other legal obligations incurred by the City of Colorado Springs in its financial assistance agreements with the Department of Transportation.

The Colorado Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC)

The WBDC can help small businesses that qualify to get certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE). This nationally recognized certification is accepted by more than 1,000 corporations representing America’s most prestigious brands, in addition to many states, cities and other entities.

Some of the benefits of WBE certification include invitations to networking events with supplier diversity representatives, contact information for supplier diversity representatives, and opportunities to attend corporate panels, procurement events, and education opportunities.To qualify, your business must be 51% owned, operated and controlled by a woman or women. Visit the national page of to apply online.

Mountain Plains Minority Supplier Development Council  (MPMSDC)

Businesses in Colorado that are at least 51% owned and operated by one or more ethnic minorities can get an MBE certification from this regional branch of the national organization called the Minority Supplier Development Council (MSDC). The MP-MSCD offers minority business certifications for companies across the state, either by applying online or in person at its location in Centennial, CO. Eligibility is established by conducting a series of screenings, interviews and site visits.