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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the statewide Diversity Business Enterprise Program?

Tennessee general assembly enacted the state's diversity program in April 2004; several months after the signing of Executive order No. 14. The executive order established the Governor's Office of Diversity Business Enterprise to developed state regulations, policies and procedures for the program. Businesses must apply for certification and provide evidence of ownership and control by a minority, female, service-disabled veteran individual(s) or small business enterprises as part of the diversity business certification process.

2. What is a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE)?

A MBE means a minority business enterprise is a business that is a continuing, independent, for profit business which performs a commercially useful function and is at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more minority individuals who are impeded from normal entry into the economic mainstream because of past practices of discrimination based on race or ethnic background. A minority is generally defined as an individual who is African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, or Native American.

3. What is a Women Business Enterprise (WBE)?

A WBE means a woman owned business enterprise that is a continuing, independent, for profit business which performs a commercially useful function and is at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more women; or in the case of any publicly owned business, at least fifty-one percent (51%) of the stock of which is owned and controlled by one (1) or more women and whose management and daily business operations are under the control of one (1) or more women.

4. What is a Service-Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise (SDVBE)

"Tennessee Service-Disabled Veteran owned business" mean any person who Served honorably on active duty in the armed forces of the United States with at least a twenty percent (20%) disability that is service-connected meaning that such disability was incurred or aggravated in the line of duty in the active military, naval or air service.

Tennessee Service-Disabled owned Veteran means a service-disabled owned business that is a continuing, independent, for profit business located in the state of Tennessee that performs a commercially useful function, and:

(a) Is at least fifty-one percent (51%) owned and controlled by one (1) or more service-disabled owned veterans;

(b) In the case of a business solely owned by one (1) service-disabled veteran and such person's spouse, is at least fifty percent (50) owned and controlled by the service-disabled veteran; or

(c) In the case of any publicly owned business, at least fifty-one percent (51%) of the stock of which is owned and controlled by one (1) or more service-disabled veteran and whose management and daily business operations are under the control of one (1) or more service-disabled veteran.

5. What is a Tennessee Small Business?

The Tennessee General Assembly expanded the definition of a Small Business that desires certification as a Small Business Enterprise (SBE). Public Chapter 1135 passed June 2010 and amended by Public Chapter 1098 effective July 2011 revised the definition of a Small Business Enterprise (SBE) with the following definition:

"Tennessee small business means a business a continuing, independent, for profit business which performs a commercially useful function with residence in Tennessee and has total gross receipts of no more than ten million dollars ($10,000,000) averaged over a three-year period and employs no more than thirty (30) persons on a full-time basis".

Effective April 2, 2012, firms seeking eligibility in the state's diversity business enterprise program for the small business certification may review the Certification Overview page of our web site for more details on how to qualify.

6. How do I register to become a certified business?

Please go to the link on our website www.tn.gov/diversity. This is an electronic registration that registers your company for certification with the Governor's Office of Diversity Business Enterprise. All applications must be submitted electronically. No documentation will be received unless submitted through the TN Go-DBE software system at https://tn.diversitysoftware.com/vendorstart.asp.

A "Documentation Checklist" checklist link is available (see "For Registration" tab) as a guide as to the type of required documentation that is required in order to complete the certification review process.

7. Who should I call for assistance with registration questions?

Through our partnership with the department of General Services, Purchasing Division we require business owners interested in certification to first register in "Edison" the state of Tennesse's procurement portal, to complete application. This application serves several purposes:

1. To registration as an Edison Bidder/Vendor

2. Increase the pool of available businesses to assist state agencies and departments in meeting their agency internal goals.

3. To contact Bidder Services call (615)253-6875 with any questions regarding the "Edison" registration process.

4. To contact Go-DBE at (615)253-4657 with any questions regarding the certification verification process.

5. Submit Technical Support request concerning software issues to the service provider by clicking the Technical Support tab within the application.

8. Is there a difference between Registration and Certification?

Yes, there is a difference:

  • Registration: Your business will be eligible to compete for state purchasing and contracting opportunities. You will receive e-mail notification from "Edison" the state's Enterprise Resource Project once you have properly completed the registration process. Registration for Tennessee's Bid/Event opportunities is open to all businesses.
  • Certification: is a process that requires a thorough investigation of a company's ownership and control of the day to day operations, including, but not limited to; financial statements, by-laws, charter, stock certificates, lease agreements, salaries of owners, number of employees, license/authorities, etc. This process is open to minority owned, woman owned, service-disabled veteran owned or small business enterprises. Applicants are required to submit the mandatory documentation needed to complete the certification review process. The certification review process verifies that the business owner has proven and met specific criteria to qualify for the diversity status of which they have applied.

9. Where can I register?

The preferred method of registrations for certification is the electronic registration application by visiting our web site at www.tn.gov/diversity. Click on "For Registration on the left hand side of the screen." All Documentation must be submitted electronically through the TN Diversity software system at:

https://tn.diversitysoftware.com/vendorstart.asp. Select "Option 3" for new applications with no current or existing certification with the Go-DBE office.

10. Do I need an appointment to get certified?

Appointments are encouraged. Knowledge of the required documentation will help expedite the certification review process. Although "walk-ins" are accepted, meetings with a Diversity Liaison without an appointment will be on a first-come first-served basis and behind scheduled appointments.

11. What documents or other important information do I need to provide for registration?

Please see the "Documentation Checklist" link as to the type of necessary documents. Required documents are to establish that the business owner meets with the ownership and control guidelines and status as a Diversity Business Enterprise, e.g.:

    1. Birth Certificate, Driver License
    2. Articles of Incorporation, Partnership or Operating Agreement
    3. State authorization to transact business - business licenses held
    4. Tax Returns

Note: To complete the certification process, all of the requested documentation must be submitted. All applications received without all of the required documentation will be determined Ineligible for certification with Go-DBE office. Once an applicant has been declined for certification the waiting period to reapply is two (2) years.

12. Do you provide loans and or grants for new businesses?

The Go-DBE office does not provide loans or grants to businesses. This office specifically works with assisting diversity businesses to compete successfully with state executive branch departments and agencies expenditures for products and/or services which are bid competitively.

13. What are the advantages of becoming certified with Go-DBE?

Certification as a diversity business enterprise provides greater exposure for certified businesses to receive opportunities with the state of Tennessee. The names of all certified businesses appear in the Go-DBE Directory and are included on the Go-DBE web site for ALL state agencies and departments to utilize when sourcing on the local agency level. Departments and agencies will readily be able to identify businesses certified through Go-DBE program. The simplicity with identifying a certified diversity firm through the certification directory or through the state's procurement portal called "Edison" creates for an effective process by which agencies and departments are better able to achieve their agency internal goals.

14. How soon after assessment am I able to submit a bid or proposal?

Businesses are able to submit electronic bids for events in "Edison" the state's procurement portal or Request for Proposal (RFP) at any point throughout the certification review process.

Upon approval of your certification with the Go-DBE office your assigned Diversity Business Liaison may refer your firm to the appropriate state procurement entity responsible for purchasing the product and/or service you have designated interest. A properly identified NIGP code must be selected and entered into "Edison" at the time of registration.

Current bid opportunities are available through the Governor's Office of Diversity Business website by clicking on "Current Procurement Opportunities".

A connecting link entitled 'Upcoming Procurement Opportunities of Acquisition Plans" is also available to view anticipated purchases in the fiscal year. The fiscal year is from July 1 to June 30 of the current year.

15. When will my certification expire?

Beginning April 1, 2006, certifications issued by Go-DBE office are valid for a period of two (2) years from the date of issuance. For re-certification, please click the "Re-Certification" link and complete the electronic application for recertification and the "Affidavit of No Change". All documentation must be submitted electronically and attached to the TN Go-DBE Diversity software system at the time of renewal. The Go-DBE office is unable to accept and process hard copy documents.

16. I applied for a Federal Tax ID (FEIN) and I am waiting on the number. Can I use my Social Security Number to register and change it when I get my FEIN number?

Your Social Security Number may be used to register. Under the new Edison Enterprise Solution, it is recommended you use your FEIN for registration. You will be required to complete a new electronic application when you change from your SSN to your FEIN.

17. My firm is located in another state, am I eligible for certification with Tennessee?

The Governor's Office of Diversity Business Enterprise may only certify in state of Tennessee businesses. All out of state businesses must submit evidence of an existing certification from their home state in order to be eligible for certification in Tennessee. Self certification is not acceptable as evidence of certification.

18. Help Starting a Business

Web sites that may provide you with helpful information on starting and operating a business:

Dept. of Revenue (Starting a New Business):
http://tennessee.gov/revenue/new_bus.htm

State Treasury
Small and Minority-Owned Business Assistance
Program (SMOB)
www.tnsmob.org