Disadvantaged Business Enterprises

Helping Disadvantaged Businesses

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is dedicated to serving our community, including those businesses contracting with state agencies and recipients of DOT funds. The department's Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program is intended to ensure nondiscrimination in the award and administration of DOT-assisted contracts in the department's highway, transit, airport, and highway safety financial assistance programs.

The goals of the program are to:
  • Ensure a level playing field in which DBEs can compete fairly for DOT-assisted contracts
  • Improve the flexibility and efficiency of the DBE program
  • Reduce burdens on small businesses
  • Remedy past and current discrimination against disadvantaged business enterprises

For additional information, visit the DOT website.

Defining a Small Disadvantaged Business Enterprise

A Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) is a small business that is at least 51% owned by one or more individuals who are both socially and economically disadvantaged. SDB status makes a company eligible for bidding and contracting benefit programs involved with federal procurement. Businesses must be certified by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to qualify for SDB status.

Publicly Owned Businesses

A publicly-owned business may be considered an SDB if at least 51% of its stock is unconditionally owned by one or more such individuals and if the public company's management and daily business is controlled by one or more such individuals.

The Small Business Association Definition

The SBA defines socially disadvantaged groups as those who have been, historically, subjected to "racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias" within the larger American culture. Identified groups include:
  • African Americans
  • Asian Pacific Americans
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Native Americans
  • Subcontinent Asian Americans

Members of other groups may qualify if they can satisfactorily demonstrate that they meet established criteria.

Economically disadvantaged individuals are defined as those for whom impaired access to financial opportunities has hampered the ability to compete in the free enterprise system, in contrast to people in similar businesses who are not identified as socially disadvantaged.

Key Benefits

  • Programs are designed to provide programming, management, and support services necessary to aid in the development of new enterprises, and the expansion or stabilization of existing businesses
  • Programs provide assistance in the creation and expansion of employment opportunities and the local tax base