The OMWBE: The Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises

Is your company women- or minority-owned? If so, is your company certified with the Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises? If you have never heard of that office or don’t know what it does, this post is here to help!

            The OMWBE is a little-known office that focuses on empowering and incentivizing businesses owned by women, minorities, and other disadvantaged populations. Their mission is simple:

“We promote equity and increase participation in public contracting and procurement for small businesses owned by minorities, women and disadvantaged persons through education and certification.”

            The office certifies businesses throughout the state that meet this mission. The certification brings with it, a multitude of advantages including the following:

  • State and local agencies, and private companies, look for certified businesses to contract with to meet their supplier diversity goals.
  • Certification makes your company eligible to apply for Washington’s Linked Deposit Program, which provides a 2% interest rate decrease on small business loans.
  • Your company will be placed on the OMWBE database. Public entities that manage federal projects can search the OMWBE database to meet mandatory goals for inclusion of certified firms.

If you are a company that is women- or minority-owned, strongly consider certifying with the OMWBE. To do so, you’ll have to fill out OMWBE’s online application, which you can access by following this link. The OMWBE uses the application process to determine your eligibility for certification. Eligibility applies both to the business and to the owner.

The business must be:

  1. For profit.
  2. Licensed to do business in the State of Washington.
  3. Able to perform services for contracts that fall within the eligible owner(s)’ field of expertise.
  4. Classified as a small business based on U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) size standards.

The business owner(s) must:

  1. Be a minority or a woman.
  2. Own at least 51% of the business and show contribution of capital and expertise.
  3. Control the day-to-day operations of the business.
  4. Be a U.S. citizen or permanent U.S. resident.
  5. Be economically disadvantaged.

If you need help figuring out if your business is classified as a “small business,” what control of day-to-day operations looks like, the meaning of “economically disadvantaged,” or if you have any other questions about the application process, please give us a call at (206) 448-7000, and we’d be happy to help!

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