Government contracts are an
excellent source of business for minority owned business enterprises (MBE). The
U.S. federal government alone spends over $200 billion a year on goods and
services. Programs exist at the federal, state, and local levels intended
to increase the participation of minority owned businesses.
At the federal level, there
are contract setasides for companies certified under the Small Business
Administration's 8(a) program, and also Small Disadvantaged Businesses (SDB).
At the state level, where the bulk of U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)
funding for roadway and transportation infrastructure projects is allocated,
each state and local transit agency must establish a goal for the participation
of Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE). Keep in mind that a goal is
not the same thing as a quota, meaning it is something that cannot be legally
enforced. Some agencies view their goals as a purely ministerial exercise,
and fail to achieve their goals year after year. Others make a more
sincere effort to meet their goals and are more aggressive in getting their
contracting officers and prime contractors to increase DBE participation,
especially on large construction projects.
Many states, counties, and
cities also have their own programs that may have setasides, bid preferences,
focused outreach, or just set goals. These programs are typically called
Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) or Minority or Women Business Enterprise (MWBE)