Certification programs at the federal, state and local level are all geared to help small disadvantaged firms enjoy more opportunities to compete for contract dollars. The key to picking the certifications that will benefit your company is to first determine which entities you want to do business with; then, find out which certification programs they recognize.
With the exception of certain contracts that are “set aside” for only certified firms, you are not required to be certified to be eligible to bid on contracts. However, being certified as a woman-owned, minority or otherwise disadvantaged business can give your company a competitive advantage.
If you want to do business with the federal government or its large prime contractors, look at becoming certified as an 8(a) contractor. To find information about the 8(a) program, which is administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration, visit the SBA informational page for government contracting opportunities. If your business is located in a distressed area, you might qualify for HUBZone certification.
If you are a woman or minority-owned small business and want to sell to State of Texas agencies, apply for certification as a HUB, or Historically Underutilized Business, vendor. The HUB program is administered by the Texas Comptroller's Office. The SHSU SBDC staff is familiar with the requirements and application process and will be glad to assist you one-on-one in completing your application. In addition, our staff will inform you of avenues utilizing state purchasing as part of your overall marketing strategy.
Entities such as the City of Houston and METRO also have certification programs, although METRO’s certification is based solely on business size, not on the owner’s race or gender. View information available for each of the entities by visiting their certification information pages.
To sell to large corporations such as Reliant Energy or Continental Airlines, investigate the certifications available through the Women’s Business Enterprise Alliance and/or the Houston Minority Supplier Development Council. Certification through these two organizations means more than just access to contract opportunities; there are also opportunities for networking with potential customers, as well as training and education to help you improve your business management skills. If you are a woman-owned business, review the Women's Business Enterprise Alliance website for additional information; and, minority-owned businesses should visit the Houston Minority Supplier Development Council website.
The SHSU SBDC works in partnership with the University of Houston Procurement Technical Assistance Center (UH PTAC) to assist small businesses on the federal level. To determine if your business is ready for federal purchasing opportunities, contact our SBDC office at (936) 294-3737 and ask to speak with your consultant about these opportunities.