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    September 27, 2017
    Opportunities for Minority Small Businesses to Get Ahead
    Guest Column by Mike DeWine, Ohio Attorney General
    As Attorney General, I represent state agencies and public college and universities negotiating contracts with companies. Minority-owned small businesses in particular can take advantage of state-sponsored programs to help their businesses grow.
    One such program is called “Minority Business Enterprise” (MBE)[1]. A business can become qualified as an MBE if it is an individual, partnership, corporation, or joint venture owned and controlled by U.S. citizens and residents of Ohio, who is/are members of one of the following groups: Blacks, Native Americans, Hispanics, and Asians. A second important program is called Encouraging Diversity, Growth and Equity (EDGE)[2]. A business can become qualified based on economic, gender, or ethnic disadvantage or physical or mental disability factors as well as race.
    To apply for recognition in one of these categories, a business owner should contact the Ohio Department of Administrative Services at (614) 466-8380 or eod@das.ohio.gov. More information on MBE and EDGE business opportunities is available on the Ohio Department of Administrative Services website: www.mbe.ohio.gov.
    Both programs help state agencies and public colleges and universities purchase goods and services from MBE vendors. Business owners can expand their business by monitoring state agency and public college and university websites and their procurement offices for opportunities.
    Seven Minority Business Assistance Centers throughout the state support minority-owned businesses. Centers are located in Toledo, Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, Akron, Youngstown, and Cleveland.  Each is equipped to provide assistance in accounting, bidding, loan application, and other small business needs. More information can be found on the Ohio Development Services Agency, Minority Business Development Division website: https://development.ohio.gov/bs/bs_mbac.htm, or call 614-728-0088. The Minority Business Development Division can also provide more information about Minority Business Bonding Program, providing bid, performance, and payment surety bonds as well as the Minority Business Direct Loan Program providing fixed, low-interest rate loans.