If you are a small business owner in St. Mary Parish, you understand how challenging it can be to compete with larger companies. You have to work extra hard to establish your presence.

While passion and grit are crucial, there are additional steps you can take to set your business up for success, such as pursuing certifications for small business owners.

Certifications for small business owners demonstrate to customers and government agencies that you meet rigorous standards. These certifications can provide the extra edge needed to level the playing field.

Below, we discuss some of the most valuable certifications for small business owners in St. Mary Parish. 

Certifications for Disadvantaged and Minority-Owned Businesses

Government agencies offer special certifications that can provide minority-owned and disadvantaged businesses with greater access to contracts and other economic opportunities. 

DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise) Certification

The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program provides certification to small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. This certification aims to increase opportunities for these businesses to compete for federally funded transportation contracts.

To qualify for DBE certification, a business must meet certain criteria, including: 

  • It must be structured as a “for-profit” enterprise, with at least 51% ownership by one or more U.S. citizens or legal residents who are socially and economically disadvantaged.
  • These individuals must also demonstrate that they maintain control over the operations of the business.

For more information about qualifying for DBE certification, you can visit the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development website.

MBE (Minority Business Enterprise) Certification

The Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certification recognizes businesses that are majority-owned and operated by minority group members. Obtaining MBE certification can give small businesses an advantage when seeking contracts with major corporations and government agencies.

To qualify for MBE certification, a business must meet specific criteria, including:

  • The owner(s) must be U.S. citizens and belong to a minority group, such as Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, Asian Indian, or Native American.
  • At least 51% of the business must be owned by minority group members.

To learn more about MBE certification, you can visit the Louisiana Minority Supplier Development Council website.

Certifications for Emerging Small Businesses

There are certification programs that are designed to support and promote the growth of emerging businesses, such as the Small & Emerging Business Development Program and Hudson Initiative.

Small & Emerging Business Development Program

The Small & Emerging Business Development (SEBD) Program, offered by Louisiana Economic Development, supports new and growing small businesses in Louisiana. Assistance through the SEBD Program is available year-round and includes:

  • Entrepreneurial training
  • Marketing assistance
  • Computer skills, accounting, and business planning assistance
  • Legal and industry-specific guidance

Criteria for the SEBD Program include:

  • The business owner must be a U.S. citizen or a legal resident who has lived in Louisiana for at least one year. 
  • At least 51% of the business must be owned by individuals with a net worth under $400,000, excluding personal residence, business assets, and retirement accounts.

The SEBD Program provides critical support and skill training to qualified small businesses during the crucial startup and early growth phases. The goal is to foster the long-term success and viability of new small businesses in Louisiana.

For more details about the Small and Emerging Business Development Program, please visit the Louisiana Economic Development website.

Hudson Initiative

The Hudson Initiative certifies eligible small businesses in the state to give them greater access to state government procurement and contracting opportunities.

To qualify for the Hudson Initiative certification, businesses must satisfy several requirements, including:

  • The company must be headquartered and principally operated in Louisiana. 
  • The business must have fewer than 50 full-time employees.
  • For non-construction firms, average annual gross receipts cannot exceed $5 million. For construction companies, the limit is $10 million. 
  • The business must be independently owned and operated.

Full details on applying for certification, eligibility requirements, and program benefits are available on the Opportunity Louisiana website

Certifications for Veteran-Owned Businesses

The Veteran Small Business Certification is one option that veteran entrepreneurs should consider pursuing.

Veteran Small Business Certification

The Veteran Small Business Certification verifies veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses to tap into special federal and state contracting programs.

The certification allows service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs) the opportunity to compete for sole-source and set-aside contracts across the federal government.

Certified veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs) may also compete for sole-source and set-aside contracts from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

To qualify for the certification, businesses must meet certain requirements, including:

  • It must be considered a small business according to SBA size standards.
  • Have no less than 51% of the business owned and controlled by one or more veterans.

Learn more at SBA Veteran Contracting Assistance Programs to see if your business qualifies.

Unlock Opportunities for Your Small Business in St. Mary Parish

As a small business owner in St. Mary Parish, having the right certifications can provide advantages to help your business succeed. Our team at St. Mary Economic Development offers free business consulting to help local entrepreneurs pick the right certifications and training for their goals.

Whether you’re just starting out or want to take your existing business to the next level, we’re here to advise you on the programs and qualifications that can give your company a competitive edge.

Read also: Where to Find Funding for Your Small Business in St. Mary Parish

Contact us today to start a conversation about how small business certifications can benefit your company’s growth and success in St. Mary Parish.

We also offer site selection assistance, market research, workforce development, incentives & programs, regulatory navigation, and professional networking opportunities.

With this comprehensive support, we can help chart a strategic course for your business’s advancement and success right here in St. Mary Parish. 

Contact us today!