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What is a SBE Certification?

The EBE Program, formerly known as the DBE program, was created to assist and protect the interests of individuals who are disadvantaged and small business concerns in order to promote and encourage full and open competition in the City of Milwaukee.

The Milwaukee Code of Ordinances went into effect and implemented the recommendations of the city’s disparity study conducted in 2009/2010 by redesigning the Emerging Business Enterprise (EBE) Program to a minority, women and small business enterprise (MWSBE) program.  The Emerging Business Enterprise program has transitioned into the Office of Small Business Development (OSBD) to further implement and oversee the programmatic changes.  The changes also limited MWSBE certifications to businesses located in a 4-county area: Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington, and Waukesha counties.


Some ordinances were repealed to remove the race and gender conscious programs (minority and women business enterprise) and maintain the race and gender neutral small business enterprise program.  Additionally, the 4-county area restriction was removed, opening up certifications to businesses located in the contiguous United States.

Who is eligible? 

  • The business shall be a U.S.-based business which is independently owned, operated and controlled and is not dominant in its field of operation, or an affiliate or subsidiary of a business dominant in its field of operation.

  • The business shall meet the size standards of the United States Small Business Administration (SBA).

  • The business shall have demonstrated capacity to perform independently or as a subcontractor relative to its field of operation.

  • The business shall not be owned, operated and controlled by individuals or groups of individuals, who own, operate and control a large business involved in the same category of work as the business for which SBE certification status is sought.

  • The business shall be operational for at least one year prior to certification.

  • The owner shall control the day-to-day critical operations of the firm.

  • The owner or owners shall be citizens or permanent, legal residents of the United States.

  • At a disadvantage with respect to business location.

  • At a disadvantage with respect to education.

  • At a disadvantage with respect to employment.

  • At a social disadvantage.

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