dslbd

Department of Small and Local Business Development
 

DC Agency Top Menu


-A +A
Bookmark and Share

Certification FAQs

What is a CBE?

A Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) is a business that is headquartered in the District of Columbia and has been certified by the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD). Businesses with CBE certification receive preferred procurement and contracting opportunities. 

Why should my business apply for CBE certification?

Businesses with CBE certification receive preferred procurement and contracting opportunities. The District directs spending to these DC-based businesses that support and contribute to job creation and the city tax base, which in turn results in a much stronger local economy. Each agency, including an agency that contracts or procures through the Office of Contracting and Procurement (OCP), must exercise its contracting and procurement authority. It must meet, on an annual basis, the goal of procuring and contracting 50 percent of the dollar volume of its goods and services, including construction goods and services, to Small Business Enterprises (SBEs).

Is a non-profit eligible for certification? 

No.  Only for profit entities are eligible for CBE certification with the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD).

If I am moving my business to the District, what is my first step?

If you are moving your business to the District, with the exception of sole proprietorships, you will need to register your business with the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA).  For assistance, you can contact DCRA’s Small Business Resource Center (SBRC) on (202) 442-4400.

My business is incorporated in another state and my office is in DC.  Am I eligible?

Yes, it does not matter where your business was originally incorporated. However, you will need to register your business (as a foreign entity) with the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA). For assistance, you can contact DCRA’s Small Business Resource Center (SBRC) at dcbiz.ecenterdirect.com or (202) 442-4400. Please note, in addition to meeting this requirement, your business must be headquartered in the District of Columbia and meet all Local Business Enterprise (LBE) requirements to qualify for the CBE program.

Does DSLBD grant reciprocity from other jurisdictions? 

No.  DSLBD’s CBE program is designed for District-based businesses only. Other certification programs are not designed to comply with the legal requirements of the District's program.

For how long is my certification valid?

Businesses certified prior to March 11, 2015 are certified for two years.  Businesses certified on or after March 11, 2015 are certified for three (3) years.  

What are the different categories of certification?

Certification as a Local Business Enterprise (LBE) is a prerequisite to be certified in any additional business enterprise category within the CBE Program. In the CBE Program, once a business meets all LBE requirements, the business can request the Small Business Enterprise (SBE),  Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE),  Resident-owned Business Enterprise (ROB),  business enterprise located within a Development Enterprise Zone (DZE),  Longtime Resident Business Enterprise (LRB),  Veteran-owned Business Enterprise (VOB) or the Local Manufacturing Business Enterprise (LME) designation(s) for consideration to receive additional preference points or percentages.

What are the preference points associated with each category of certification?

CBE Category Proposal Points Bid % Price Reduction
Local Business Enterprise 2 2%
Small Business Enterprise 3 3%
Disadvantaged Business Enterprise* 2 2%
Development Enterprise Zone 2 2%
Resident-Owned Business 5 5%
Longtime Resident Business 5 10%
Veteran-Owned Business Enterprise 2 2%
Local Manufacturing Business Enterprise 2 2%

*Note: The personal net worth of the applicant seeking DBE certification must be less than $1,000,000, excluding the value of his/her primary residence and values if his/her ownership interest in the CBE.

What is a Small Business Enterprise (SBE) and how can my business qualify?                          

 

A small business enterprise is a certification designation offered by DSLBD.  Eligibility requires the business be deemed a local business enterprise;  independently owned, operated, and controlled; and considered as certified by the United States Small Business Administration as a small business concern or meets the definition of a small business concern under the Small Business Act, approved July 18, 1958 (72 Stat. 863; 15 U.S.C. § 631 et seq.).

 

The department determines eligibility based on the applicant’s averaged annualized gross receipts for the 3 years preceding certification.  DSLBD also considers SBA industry limits, but does not exclusively use them.  If your business’ average annual gross receipts is below the listed limit for the specified industry then you are eligible for this category.  The chart below signifies industry limits used by DSLBD for determining the SBE designation in accordance with D.C. Code  2-218.32.

SBE Certification Category Industry Description

Limit

Construction, Heavy (Street and Highways, Bridges, etc.)

$23M

Construction, Building (General Construction, etc.)

$21M

Construction, Specialty Trades

$13M

Goods & Equipment

$20M

General Services

$19M

Professional Services, Personal Services

$5M

(Hotel, Beauty, Laundry, etc.)

 

Professional Services, Business Services

$10M

Professional Services, Health & Legal Services

$10M

Professional Services, Health Facilities Management

$19M

Manufacturing Services

$10M

Transportation & Hauling Services

$13M

Financial Institutions

$300M

How long will the CBE certification process take?

The CBE certification process can take up to 45 business days once you submit the application.  DSLBD does not expedite applications.

Is there a sample checklist of required documents for the CBE application process?

Yes. Click to view a sample checklist. This is a sample only. Customized checklists are generated upon completion of the CBE online application.

Does CBE certification automatically confer DDOT DBE certification?

No, DSLBD certification has no bearing on federally-funded highway projects. Visit the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) Disadvantaged Business Enterprise page to learn more about DDOTs DBE program: http://ddot.dc.gov/dbe.

What happens if my application is not approved?

If your application is not approved, you will receive a notice of decision from the Director of DSLBD detailing the reasons for denial and rights to appeal.  If you are not approved you will not be able to submit a new application for six (6) months from the date you received the notice. 

Is there a logo that I can use to market my business as a Certified Business Enterprise (CBE)? And how can I use it?

Yes, there is an official DSLBD CBE program logo. As of 2017, the Department is providing a CBE Branding Guide, which provides guidance and details on how to use the CBE logo to assist your business gain opportunities. The logo is only for active CBEs. Email [email protected] to receive the logo file.

How do I notify the Department of a change in my certification?

Notification, on business letterhead, should be sent to the Department to the attention of the Certification Manager at [email protected].  The notice should include the change the business is requesting and should be sent by the owner or an owner of the business.  If the business is reporting an address change, the business must submit the new lease (minimum of 12 months) or deed for the location and a copy of the Certificate of Occupancy  or Home Occupation Permit for the location. 

Pursuant to the CBE law, during the term of a certificate, a CBE shall report to the Department any change of address, change of ownership, or other change that may affect the continued eligibility of the CBE within thirty (30) days of the date of the change.  Upon learning of any changes, the Department may request documentation regarding continued eligibility and conduct onsite inspections.

How do I reset my username and password? 

The owner or an owner of the business can email the certification division at [email protected] or contact the certification team on (202) 727-3900.  If an email is sent, please include the name of your firm, notify us of any changes to the email address provided in the application and ask for your login and password to be reset.