In order to encourage and support the growth of minority and socially and economically disadvantaged businesses, the State of Ohio implemented several business assistance programs to foster the development of these businesses and increase the number of qualified competitors in the marketplace. Generally, these programs require Ohio state agencies to award a certain percentage of their contracts to businesses owned and controlled by different specified groups. To that end, Ohio has four primary programs: Minority Business Enterprise (“MBE”); Women-Owned Business Enterprise (“WBE”); Encouraging Diversity, Growth and Equity (“EDGE”); and Veteran-Friendly Business Enterprise (“VBE”). These programs are administered by the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, Equal Opportunity Division (“DAS”).
Recent Updates to the EDGE Program
The EDGE Program is designed to assist socially and economically disadvantaged persons and businesses in obtaining Ohio state government contracts in construction; architecture and engineering; professional services; goods and services; and information technology services. Each year, the Director of DAS sets the EDGE procurement goals for each state agency. Generally, the procurement goal is approximately five percent (5%) of all eligible agency procurements. A business is not eligible to be awarded contracts under one of these programs until the business is certified by DAS.
In October 2020, DAS updated the rules for the EDGE program, including revising the certification criteria. While there are many nuances to the certification requirements for the EDGE Program, this recent Legal Alert provides a basic overview of the criteria and focuses on the most significant changes that DAS instituted effective October 2020.