The Maryland Entrepreneur's Guide/Business Enterprise Programs

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Chapter 1 Private Financing

Chapter 2 Maryland Financing Programs

Chapter 3 Federal Financing

Chapter 4 Incubators

Chapter 5 Business Enterprise Programs

Chapter 6 Opportunities for Business Growth

Chapter 7 Tax Credit and Incentive Programs

Chapter 8 Intellectual Property Protection

Chapter 9 Choice of Entity

Additional Resources


Conditions of Use; Contributor's Disclaimer


Maryland Minority Business Enterprise Program[edit | edit source]

The Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Program is operated by the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs. The MBE Program is a goal based initiative to achieve a percentage of MBE participation on State issued contracts. The MBE was established to encourage minority and women owned business to participate in the State procurement process.

Maryland agencies are required to structure their procurements to achieve an overall minimum of 25% of the total dollar value of their procurement contracts directly or indirectly from certified MBE firms. Maryland agencies are required to attempt to achieve a minimum of 7% of the total dollar value of their procurement contracts directly or indirectly from certified African-American-owned businesses and 10% of the total dollar value of their procurement contracts directly or indirectly from certified women-owned MBE businesses.

In order to participate in the MBE program, a firm must first obtain certification as a MBE. The Office of Minority Business Enterprise of the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), is uniform certification agency for the State of Maryland, and is the only State agency that has authority to certify a firm as a MBE. Once a company is certified through MDOT, it may participate as a MBE subcontractor on ANY state contract, regardless of the agency.

To be eligible for certification as an MBE firm, a business must be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. A firm designated as an MBE and will have its name appear in the MBE Internet Directory, a reference document made available to all State departments/agencies, the contracting community and the general public.

MBE certification is designed to expose your company to opportunities on State and local government projects. The names of all certified MBE businesses appear in MDOT’s MBE Directory, which is available online and is widely used by State agencies, local governments, contractors, and the general public. Certification does not guarantee work to any certified firm. Although certification enhances a firm’s exposure to prime contractors and the business community, a certified firm still must market itself, and its services.

All State agencies are required to use eMaryland Marketplace (eMM) to advertise contract opportunities. In order to receive a contract award, a vendor must be registered on eMM. Maryland's Department of General Services administers eMM, and the eMM web site can be found at: In addition to eMM, State agencies also are encouraged to send notices of procurement opportunities to minority contractor associations and publications. For more information, see also

Eligibility Criteria[edit | edit source]

To be eligible for certification as an MBE firm, a business must be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, whose net worth does not exceed $1,500,000. Additionally, non-profit firms that are organized to promote the interests of the physically or mentally disabled also are eligible for MBE certification.

An individual is presumed to be socially and economically disadvantaged if that individual is: African-American; Hispanic-American; Asian-American; Native-American; or a woman (Disabled individuals, who are not members of one of the aforementioned groups, may also be eligible if they own and control their business and establish their social and economic disadvantage). A determination of whether an individual meets MBE eligibility criteria is made on a case-by-case basis.

MDOT has a comprehensive certification process to determine the ownership and control of firms that apply for MBE certification. There are several specific edibility criteria for certification. In determining ownership of a MBE firm, actual investment by the minority owner is important. Control includes both managerial and operational control of the company. Technical knowledge of the firm’s major areas of work is an important component of assessing operational control.

Certification is based on the requirements prescribed for the MBE, including the eligibility criteria set forth above. Applications are reviewed by the MBE Intake Unit to confirm that all required documents have been submitted.

MDOT is also responsible for administrating the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program for the State of Maryland. The DBE program provides a vehicle for increasing the participation by certified DBE firms in State and local procurements that are funded with assistance from USDOT.USDOT DBE regulations require State and local transportation agencies to establish goals for the participation of DBE firms on USDOT-assisted procurements. In Maryland, only three administrations participate in the DBE program: State Highway Administration, Maryland Aviation Administration and Maryland Transit Administration.

The eligibility criteria for DBE certification is very similar to that for MBE certification. To be eligible for certification as a DBE, a business must be at least 51% owned and controlled by a socially and economically disadvantaged individual(s). Both the MBE Program and the DBE Program have Personal Net Worth (PNW) eligibility requirements. To qualify as an MBE, the PNW of each socially and economically disadvantaged individual who owns and controls the firm, as a part of the 51% ownership, must not exceed $1,500,000. When an individual's PNW exceeds the $1,500,000 threshold, the individual is no longer eligible to participate in the MBE Program. The PNW for each socially and economically disadvantaged individual who owns and controls a DBE firm, as part of the 51% ownership, must not exceed $750,000.00.

Additional information regarding the requirements and certification procedures for the MBE/DBE Programs maybe found in Title 14, Subtitle 3 of the State Finance and Procurement Article of the Maryland Annotated Code, Title 21, Subtitle 11, Chapter 3 of the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR), USDOT regulations 49 CFR Parts 23 and 26, and the most current MBE/DBE Program Manual issued by MDOT.

MBE Application Process[edit | edit source]

Applications for MBE/DBE certification are available online at: or by calling the MDOT Office of MBE directly at 410-865-1269 or 800-544-6056.

Applications are then forwarded to the Certification Unit and assigned to MBE Officers who conduct interviews at the firms' offices and perform job site visits if possible. As part of the certification process, applicants may be required to appear before the MBE Advisory Committee (MBEAC) to discuss their businesses and to respond to questions. Appearances before the MBEAC are conducted during public meetings, which may be observed by prospective applicants. The MBEAC makes recommendations to the MBEAC Chairperson, who then issues the certification decision.

A list of documents that must be submitted in support of a certification application, is located at the MDOT website at:

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Anne Arundel County Minority Business Enterprise Program[edit | edit source]

The Office of Central Services is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the County's MBE Program. The Enterprise Committee of Anne Arundel, an ad hoc committee oversees the implementation and operation of the County MBE Program.

It is the policy of Anne Arundel County to assure all persons seeking to do business with the County, equal opportunity and access to participate in the procurement of all commodities and services. The Minority/Small Business Enterprise Coordinator is an advocate for "equal business opportunity" in procurement and functions on many levels including, but not limited to:

Providing technical assistance to women and minority businesses

Recording statistics on W/MBE utilization

Updating the County's Minority and Women-Owned Business directory

Providing leadership and direction to the County's Minority Business Enterprise Committee

Available Contracts:

Purchasing (non-construction) - Contracts with the County for the purchase of goods and services. Construction Contracts

(Public Works) - Construction contracts that have a bid amount of $50,000 or more. The goal for minority businesses is 10 percent and 2 percent for women owned business.

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Baltimore City Minority Business Enterprise Program[edit | edit source]

The Minority and Women’s Business Opportunity Office (MWBOO) is responsible for administering the certification of MBEs and Women’s Business Enterprises (WBE) in Baltimore City.

Eligibility Criteria[edit | edit source]

A MBE is a business that is owned, operated, and controlled by one or more minority group members who have at least 51% ownership, and is located in the Baltimore City Market Area. A minority includes members of the following groups: African American, Hispanic American, Asian American, or Native American.

A WBE is a business owned, operated and controlled by one or more women who have 51% ownership, and is located in the Baltimore City Market Area. The Baltimore City Market Area means the following geographic regions of Maryland: Anne Arundel County; Carroll County; Baltimore City; Baltimore County; Harford County; Howard County and Queen Anne's County.

In order to be considered for certification by MWBOO, applicants must meet the following criteria:

Independently owned and operated business;

In operation 12 months before applying for certification;

Minority or women-owned for at least 12 months before applying for certification; and

Have an operating office in the Baltimore City Market Area

Pre-qualification vs. Certification: Pre-qualification and certification are different processes. Pre-qualification is the process by which the City’s Office of Boards and Commissions (the “Office”) determines the work capacity of a contractor. Through an analysis of a contractor's basic financial information, the Office assigns a base capacity rating. The pre-qualification and work capacity rating provide the City some assurances that the contractor has the experience and resources to perform the requirements of a contract. To obtain a pre-qualification application, call the Office of Boards and Commissions by using the number at(410) 396-6883 . Certification, as noted above, is the process by which a business is determined to be a minority-owned or woman-owned business.

MBE/WBE Application Process[edit | edit source]

Firm’s wishing to receive certification as an MBE or WBE should download a MBE/WBE Certification Application or an MBE/WBE Re-Certification Application from There is no application fee.

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Baltimore County Minority Business Enterprise Program [edit | edit source]

The Minority Business Enterprise Office provides information to minority, women and disabled owned businesses regarding procurement opportunities, preparing of business and marketing plans and financial information. Baltimore County Government is committed to providing greater opportunities for participation by minority, women and disabled owned businesses.

The following Baltimore County MWBE services are available:

(1) MWBE Directory/Vendor Compliance, a directory of certified minority and women owned businesses to use on County projects.

(2) Technical assistance and individual counseling.

(3) Participation in outreach events, procurement conferences and trade shows to further expand the program’s initiatives.

(4) Annual reports on the MBE/WBE participation status.

(5) Reports on the effectiveness of the County’s MBE/WBE procurement efforts.

Eligibility Criteria[edit | edit source]

Minority and women owned businesses that wish to participate in the Public Works MBE program must be certified as provided at one of the following websites or

Contractors who wish to bid as general contractors must be pre-qualified through Baltimore County’s Construction Contracts Administration Division should visit here

Architects, Landscape Architects, Engineers and Land Surveyors who wish to be considered for work with Baltimore County should refer to the Professional Services Selection for prequalification information.

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Howard County Minority Business Enterprise Program[edit | edit source]

Howard County has a goal-oriented equal business opportunity program. For a list of certified MBE, WBE or DBE firms (Minority, Women's or Disabled Business Enterprises) or specific capabilities see

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Montgomery County Minority Business Outreach Program[edit | edit source]

The Montgomery County Department of Economic Development conducts programs, sponsors events and engages in various other activities to reach minority businesses. The County has received several awards for assistance to minority firms. Minority Business Enterprise is defined in accordance with the Chapter 11B-58 of the Montgomery County Code and under the State of Maryland's procurement law. For more information see

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Prince George’s County Minority Business Enterprise Program [edit | edit source]

The goal of the Prince George’s County MBE Program is to structure County’s procurement procedures and activities to facilitate and encourage the award of at least thirty percent (30%) of the total dollar value awarded in the County, directly or indirectly, to MBEs.

The County’s MBE Program is comprised of three major components: MBE Procurement Assistance; Business Development; and MBE Certification.

The Prince George’s County Minority Business Development Division (MBDD), located within the Office of Central Services, oversees the County’s MBE Program.

MBE certification is designed to provide more exposure to your firm as well as the ability to become a subcontractor. Certification does not, however, guarantee work to any minority firm. All bids and RFPs are competitive. To be successful, a firm must market itself, its personnel and services, as any good business must.

Since 2003, the County has awarded more than $40 million annually to County MBEs.

Eligibility Criteria[edit | edit source]

Only firms that are at least 51% owned and controlled by individuals who are: African-American; Hispanic-American; Asian-American; or women qualify under the County’s MBE Program.

If your company is currently an MBE certified by MDOT or the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), the MBDD will make a determination concerning your eligibility as an MBE in Prince George's County. MBEs are required to certify to the MBDD on an annual basis.

Application Process[edit | edit source]

To obtain MBE certification in Prince George’s County you must:

a. Complete a Bidder’s List Application, which may be obtained from the County on-line at the County’s website:;

b. Obtain a MBE certification letter from either MDOT or the WMATA;

c. Contact the MBDD and provide the following documentation: (1) A copy of the Bidder’s List Application and (2) Submit a copy of the certification letter from either MDOT or WMATA.

d. MBDD has an “Interim” certification to allow firms that are certified in selected jurisdictions to be included in the County’s MBE Program on a six month basis.

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Other Local Business Enterprise Programs and Resources[edit | edit source]

1. Annapolis Minority and Small Business Enterprise Division - Visit their website at

2. Small, Local Business Enterprise ("SLBE") and Small, Local and Minority Business Enterprise ("SLMBE") Program

These programs supports firms located in Prince George’s County and Montgomery County, in the State of Maryland, who either maintain their principal place of business in such counties, or have a significant employee presence in such counties. A SLMBE must also be owned by a minority. For more information see

3. Washington DC Minority Business Development Center The Washington, DC Minority Business Enterprise Center (DCMBEC) is a business consulting development agency located in the District of Columbia. DCMBEC works to counteract the economic disparity in performance between minority and non-minority companies, and works with minority businesses to improve their performance and profitability. For more information see

The following criteria are administered when evaluating clients for services through the DCMBEC:

• Firm must be at least 51% owned by an ethnic minority (not gender based)

• Located within Washington D.C.

• A for-profit entity generation, or having the potential to generate, $500,000 or more in annual revenues

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