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What is a DBE Certification?

The DBE program started with Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982, which set a national goal of placing at least 10 percent of federal highway and transit funds with persons who qualify as disadvantaged small business operators. A subsequent act in 1987 included women.


The program goal is to increase participation of firms owned by disadvantaged individuals in all federal aid and state transportation facility contracts.

Who is eligible? 

Any small business at least 51% owned, operated and fully controlled on a daily basis by a member or members of the groups listed below qualifies. In the case of publicly held firms, a member or members of the listed groups must own at least 51% of the stock issued. Groups includes:

  • African Americans

  • Native Americans

  • Hispanic Americans

  • Asian-Pacific Americans

  • Asian-Indian Americans

  • Women

How is it beneficial? 

WisDOT invests $600-700 million annually in federal and state dollars for highway, airport and transit projects. These funds translate into millions of dollars in transportation-related contracts and project work for DBE firms.

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