Can a joint venture be certified as a disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) in the State of Maryland?

By:  James R. Benjamin, Jr., Esquire       

No.  A joint venture is an association of a DBE firm and one or more firms to carry out a single, for-profit business enterprise for which the parties combine their property, capital, skills and knowledge.  Because a joint venture consists of businesses brought together temporarily, the joint venture itself cannot be certified. 

However, with that said, a joint venture can receive DBE credit for a specific contract if the DBE partner of the joint venture meets the standards for an eligible DBE, and the DBE is responsible for a clearly defined portion of the work to be performed and shares in the ownership, control, management responsibilities, risks and profits of the joint venture.  With that said, the joint venture cannot serve as an instrument to meet contract goals in instances where the DBE is not given the opportunity to exercise independent judgments.

Certification of a business can be a viable tool for developing and maintaining business relationships. Businesses seeking certification as a DBE in Maryland may want to consider obtaining legal advice concerning eligibility requirements for certification prior to applying for certification.  


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