Is the personal net worth cap different for businesses seeking certification as a disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE)?

By: James R. Benjamin, Jr., Esquire                          

Yes. Personal net worth refers to the net value of the assets of an individual remaining after total liabilities are deducted. It includes the individual’s share of assets held jointly or as community property with the individual’s spouse. It does not include the individual’s ownership interest in the business applying for certification and does not include the equity in the individual’s primary place of residence.

Businesses applying for certification as an MBE with MDOT may also seek certification as a DBE. MDOT’s MBE program concerns State-funded contracts while its DBE program concerns contracts funded with assistance from the U.S. Department of Transportation. While eligibility requirements for certification as a DBE are similar to those as an MBE, the personal net worth requirements for DBE owners differ from those required for MBEs. Currently, the personal net worth for DBE owners cannot exceed $1,350,000.00, while an MBE owner’s personal net worth cannot exceed $1,577,337.00.

Certification of a business as an MBE or DBE can be a viable tool for developing and maintaining business relationships. Businesses seeking certification as an MBE or DBE should use care when submitting a personal net worth statement to ensure it has taken the personal net worth caps into consideration as part of any application for certification. Such businesses may also want to consider obtaining legal advice concerning eligibility requirements for certification prior to applying for certification.