Does Your Georgia Small Business Qualify as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (BDE)?

Select small business owners located in Georgia take note.  There is a network of programs that exist within the state that offers Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) certifications to those businesses who are majority owned by individuals considered to be socially or economically disadvantaged.  Certification with the state brings undeniable benefits by offering a distinct leg up to these businesses, who may be vying for state contracts with administrative organizations such as MARTA and the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT).

The underlying goal of the programs are to offer greater exposure of certified minority companies to state and local officials as well as private sector suppliers in an effort to increase subcontracting opportunities for these companies.  Said certifications are granted to a diverse group of businesses, including but not limited to traditionally disadvantaged classes such as women, minorities, veterans and service disabled veterans.

The authority for these programs is vested under state law O.C.G.A. § 48-7-38 which states, “When computing the taxable net income of a Georgia base corporation, partnership, or individual, there shall be subtracted from federal taxable income of federal adjusted gross income 10 percent of the amount of qualified payments to certified minority subcontractors.”  This essentially amounts to the state rewarding organizations that do business with certified DBE’s through tax incentives on the amount of services paid.  This 10 percent is material to organizations awarding large scale contracts.

To qualify, the potential applicant simply need be a for-profit organization that is at least 51% owned and operated by a socially or economically disadvantaged class and based in Georgia.  From here the application process is based on the location in Georgia in which the business in located.  The Georgia Unified Certification program (GUCP) is available to all members within the state except for Fulton, Dekalb, or Clayton counties.  These counties are certified separately through the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA).  The Unified Application can be found here.

In addition to the statewide program, the city of Atlanta, through the Office of Contract Compliance offers two more programs for the same class of individuals.  These programs are the Equal Business Opportunity (EBO) and Small Business Opportunity (SBO).  While the qualifications of these programs are slightly different than GUCP, the underlying goal is the same, to certify qualifying entities and offer them increased access to work within the city of Atlanta.  The applications for these programs are available here.

Finally, another program available to a more selective class of individuals on the basis of ethnicity is available as a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE).  This program is only available to existing and certified DBE organizations, and operates as a separate certification.  This program supports to these businesses through offering education, networking, and additional resources for all certified members.  The only additional requirement over DBE certification is that the owner of such business be a minority.  This application is located here.

If you have questions regarding these programs or whether you qualify, we are more than happy to answer them.  Thrift & McLemore’s attorneys are well versed in the qualifications and necessary paperwork involved with becoming a DBE in Georgia.   Contact Thrift & McLemore by email at [email protected] or by phone at 678-671-4031 to discuss how we can assist you with the application process and get you on your way to being a registered Disadvantaged Business Enterprise today!

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