Rockford, Illinois

Business Certifications

Are you a minority owned business? Woman owned? A person with disabilities owned business? Veteran owned? Are you a Service Disabled Veteran owned business? Are you located in a historically underutilized business zone? There are multiple options for becoming certified; federal-level, state-level, and local-level.

Depending upon your target market, you may need multiple certifications. All certifications, at any level, require that the business must be 51% or more managed, owned & controlled by the individual claiming social and/or economic status. All certifications are a formal application process with substantial documentation to be sent to prove managed, owned, and controlled declaration.

Below you will find helpful resources for certifying your business.You can also contact us for certification preparation assistance and/or analysis.

Federal-level certifications
There are basic registrations that are required of all businesses wanting to do business with the federal government.

Certified Small Business
The Federal government sets aside certain contract bid opportunities exclusively for small businesses. In order to compete for these contracts, you must first register as a vendor with the government. A step-by-step guide for vendors can be obtained from SBA's website. As part of the registration process, you will be required to enter information about your company in the System for Award Management (SAM) database. You may self-certify yourself as a small business, but you must meet the Federal government's definition of a small business. A "small business" is defined by of the number of employees over the past year, or average annual receipts over the past three years. Visit our "Business Classification" page to see if you can be classified as a small business.

8(a) Business
This program is in place for those businesses whose owner of 51% or more can prove with a preponderance of evidence they are socially and economically disadvantaged. Social Disadvantage is automatically awarded to those that are African American, Asian American Pacific, Asian American Subcontinent, Hispanic American and Native American. Economic Disadvantage has a two part eligibility; 1) the individual claiming disadvantaged status must prove that their individual net worth of less than $250,000 (removing interest in primary residence and/or business) AND a written narrative of economic disadvantage is submitted. This written narrative can be both personal & professional and span their entire lifetime. This is a 9 year program and may only be awarded once. A secondary certification will be awarded as part of the 8(a) status which is Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB). NOTE: all others, not qualifying for 8(a) may self-certify as SDB within their SAM registration as long as they qualify as socially & economically disadvantaged (social is 5 designated groups and economic is an individual net worth of $750,000 or less). Visit SBA's website for additional 8a program details.

Women Owned Small Business Program (WOSB/EDWOSB)
The federal WOSB program is based on qualifying NAICS, 51% or more ownership by a woman or women and for the EDWOSB an additional requirement of individual net worth of less than $750,000 (excluding primary residence and/or business interest). There are approximately 83 categories that qualify either in the Women Owned Small Business Program (WOSB) or the Economically Disadvantaged Women Owned Small Business Program (EDWOSB). The first step in the process is identifying if one of your NAICS has been placed in the program. The second step will be to upload the appropriate documents as identified in the Compliance Guide. Once, the documents are uploaded you have completed the requirements of the program. The key to this program is that if you respond to a federal opportunity that has been designated into the WOSB or EDWOSB program you MUST go back into the repository and authorize that identified Contracting Officer to review your uploaded documents for final verification and possible award. Access additional resources for WOSB and EDWOSB certification.

This program is based on the primary headquarter location and number of employees. By Census Tract there are identified HUBZones located throughout the country and your primary headquarters must reside in an identified HUBZone tract AND 35% of your workforce must reside in an identified HUBZone tract (not necessarily the same location as the primary headquarters). This status may be renewed every three years as long as the location is in an identified HUBZone tract. Primary headquarter address can be placed into the HUBZone map to identify if you are within a qualifying location.

Veteran Owned Small Business (VOSB), Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB)
The VA has unique buying authority and they have the "VET FIRST" Procurement Rule. The rule identifies that formal certification must be received in order to contract with their agency. There are two possible certifications VOSB and SDVOSB for small business only. Eligibility would be 51% or more managed, owned and controlled by one or more veterans or service disabled veterans. Formal application must be submitted to be approved and certified. We encourage you to view additional information.

NOTE: all other agencies may accept your self-certification of VOSB and/or SDVOSB that was entered into your System for Award Management (SAM).

Federal Contracting Certification (FCC)
The Federal Contractor Certification is a training program for Veteran business owners intended to help these owners understand Federal contracting, respond competently to solicitations and perform successfully once they have won the contract.  RVC's PTAC can assist you in obtaining this certification.

State-level certifications
The State of Illinois recognizes four certification statuses:

1) Persons with Disabilities Business Enterprise (PBE)

2) Minority Business Enterprise (MBE),

3) Female Business Enterprise (FBE)
All three of which are certified through the Business Enterprise Program website.

4) Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) / Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) certification applications can be accessed through the Illinois Department of Central Management Services.

IDOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) certification
United States Department Of Transportation (DOT) originally enacted Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) certification in 1987. In simple terms they declared that any agency who receives their federal transportation funds at a local level will be a certifying body. Eligibility for DBE certification is based being a small business as defined by the US SBA, being socially & economically disadvantaged. Social is automatic for six designated groups; Native American, African American, Hispanic American, Asian Pacific American and Asian Subcontinent American and women. Other minorities may qualify with social narrative submitted. Economically the individual claiming social disadvantage must have a net worth of less than $1,320,000 (excluding primary residence and/or business interest). A business must receive the certification through ONE agency locally and then that certification will take them nationally. In Illinois, our certifying bodies are listed below. Review the website and application requirements or contact one of our counselors for assistance.

Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT)

City of Chicago



Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)

Local-level certifications
To access local-level certifications (such as County, Municipalities and School districts) we recommend that you visit each local website for details.