City of Philadelphia Accepting Disabled Business Enterprise Certifications from Two New Agencies

PHILADELPHIA – Beginning this month, the City of Philadelphia will now accept Disabled Business Enterprise (DSBE) certifications from the United States Business Leadership Network (USBLN) and The Enterprise Center.

The addition of these two certifying agencies will improve access to contract opportunities for DSBE firms with the City of Philadelphia and quasi-public agencies. The certification process verifies that at least 51% of the beneficial ownership interest and control are held by a minority, woman or persons with disabilities. Certification allows a business to be added to the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) Registry, which qualifies such businesses to be counted towards City participation goals.

“The Kenney administration is dedicated to raising the bar for inclusion, and in order to be truly successful in this venture we must ensure that more M/W/DSBEs are engaged on City and quasi-public contracting opportunities,” said Iola Harper, Deputy Commerce Director for the Office of Economic Opportunity. “For too long, businesses owned by people with disabilities have not been able to fully enjoy the benefits of being a certified firm on the OEO Registry. We look forward to working with more businesses owned by people with disabilities to ensure they are properly represented both on the Registry and in our contracting opportunities.”

The OEO Registry is viewed by contractors and professionals seeking minority, women and disabled-owned firms as partners and sub-contractors on major projects in the region. City operating departments also use the OEO Registry as a tool to source services and goods for special projects.

“We are upping the ante on the City’s efforts to further diversify its economic landscape and level the playing field for all who are seeking to do business here,” said Councilman Derek Green (At-Large). “Now that the OEO will be receiving certifications from USBLN and The Enterprise Center, we can ensure there will be more accountability which will lead to more opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs – disabled, minority and woman-owned alike.”

For the past several there has been a scarcity of agencies nationally who perform DSBE certification, and as a result Philadelphia was unable to add new DSBEs to the OEO Registry. At the start of 2018, only eight DSBEs were included in the Registry. Because the US Census Survey of Business Owners does not collect data on the availability of disabled-owned firms, it is difficult to establish the number of such firms who are in existence and able to provide goods and services procured by the City and quasi-public agencies. The last Disparity Study (completed for FY16) found insufficient data on the availability of disabled-owned firms in Philadelphia and the MSA. While the local Disparity Study and US Census do not have conclusive information about the availability of disabled-owned businesses, OEO has heard from local firms seeking DSBE status and hopes that the addition of these two new certification programs will fill the existing need in Philadelphia.

“I’m pleased to see this policy decision that will expand opportunities for persons with disabilities to do business with the government,” added Charles W. Horton Jr., Executive Director of the Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities.

The US Business Leadership Network is the nation’s leading organization for disabled-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses. The USBLN manages the Disability Supplier Diversity Program, which is the nation’s leading third-party certifier of disabled-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses.

The Enterprise Center provides access to capital, capacity building, business education and economic development opportunities to high-potential, minority entrepreneurs. In addition to the new DSBE certification, The Enterprise Center also offers certification for minority-owned businesses.

Businesses interested in learning more about the certification process for DSBEs can contact USBLN and The Enterprise Center. Once certification is complete, they should register online with the Office of Economic Opportunity.