Maryland Small Business Certifications

Posted by: Economic Development Team on Thursday, March 12, 2020

It’s important to know what certifications your business needs to compete for government contracts. At our Leveraging Your Certifications workshop on March 5, we discussed numerous certifications that can level the playing field for women- and minority-owned businesses in the State of Maryland.

8(a) Business Development Program

To help provide an equal opportunity for small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged people or entities, the federal government limits competition for certain contracts to businesses that participate in the 8(a) Business Development program.

To qualify for the 8(a) program, you must:

  • Be a small business.
  • Not already have participated in the 8(a) program.
  • Be at least 51 percent owned and controlled by U.S. citizens who are economically and socially disadvantaged.
  • Be owned by someone whose personal net worth is $250,000 or less.
  • Be owned by someone whose average adjusted gross income for three years is $250,000 or less.
  • Be owned by someone with $4 million or less in assets.
  • Have the owner manage day-to-day operations and also make long-term decisions.
  • Have all its principals demonstrate good character.
  • Show potential for success and be able to perform successfully on contracts.

To get certified as an 8(a) business, simply use the website. You’ll need to have a profile at before you can use the certification website. The information you’ll need to provide will vary based on your business structure and whether you’re already participating in other Small Business Administration (SBA) programs.

Learn more about the 8(a) Development Program.


Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) Certifications

MDOT is the State of Maryland’s official certification agency for the Minority Business Enterprise program (MBE), Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), Airport Concessions Disadvantage Business Enterprise (ACDBE), and Small Business Enterprise (SBE) programs. Socially and economically disadvantaged business can become certified with the State and have access to contracting opportunities that are available through the State and most counties, cities, and municipalities.

More information on MDOT certifications.


Charles County SLBE and MBE Programs

The Small Local Business Enterprise (SLBE) and Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) programs were established to support the vitality of small businesses by encouraging them to participate in County contracts and other procurement opportunities.

In order to qualify for the SLBE program, businesses must first be certified in the State of Maryland's Small Business Reserve (SBR) Program, and then be certified by the Economic Development Department as a "local" business. Once fully registered, SLBE firms are eligible for preferences in County procurement subject to the SLBE Program.

The Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) program encourages women, people of color, veterans, and disabled entrepreneurs to take their seats at the procurement table. This program encourages minority business participation in the County procurement process by providing technical assistance with certification, networking, and promoting MBEs as subcontractors on County projects.

The County conducts its own MBE registration and recognizes MBE certification by the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Federal Government’s SBA 8-A certification. To qualify as an MBE, applicants must own 51 percent of their business and classify as one of the following:

  • African American
  • Asian American
  • Indian/Native American
  • Hispanic
  • Disabled American Veteran
  • Physically and Mentally Disabled
  • Woman

Learn more about Charles County’s SLBE and MBE programs.

This is only a small piece of what was covered at the March 5 Workshop. If you are an entrepreneur or small business owner, be sure to register for the next series workshop, Access to Capital, on March 25. Learn more here.

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