About the CERT Program
The Central Certification (CERT) Program is a small business certification program recognized by Hennepin County, Ramsey County, the City of Minneapolis and the City of Saint Paul. The CERT Program certifies small businesses, including small Minority-Owned Business Enterprises (MBE) and small Women-Owned Business Enterprises (WBE). The CERT Program also certifies Emerging Small Business Enterprises (ESBE), which are a subset of the small business marketplace.
We are committed to helping small businesses grow and thrive and, as a result of our commitment, this central system exists to assist small businesses, including those owned and operated by women and minorities.
The CERT Program seeks to promote market growth, increase competitiveness, and create jobs among participating businesses, as well as to improve the quality of life for area residents.
The City of Saint Paul currently serves as the contact point for the CERT Program. (The previous website govcontracts.org now redirects to this website.)
Emerging Small Business Enterprise (ESBE) Program
The CERT ESBE program is a race- and gender-neutral program designed to provide greater access to public contracting to very small local businesses. The ESBE program complements efforts by CERT Board Executive Members to increase their spending with local small businesses.
Eligibility for the ESBE program is the same as SBE qualifications, except that the size standard for ESBE eligibility is greatly reduced. For example, general contractors with average gross annual revenues of $39 million are be eligible to be certified as an SBE. To qualify as an ESBE as a general contractor, a business cannot average more than $4.0 million in annual revenue.
Eligible businesses who apply for CERT certification will be automatically designated as an ESBE. There is no additional certification process for ESBE designation.
View the CERT ESBE Criteria.
View the CERT Executive Board Resolution adopting the ESBE size standards.
Get Certified – Apply Online
Apply for CERT Certification for your small business.
CERT Business Search and Directory
Please click Central CERT Directory HERE (www.cert.smwbe.com) to access the current business list. To access the list, click on the "Central CERT Directory" on the left menu. You can do a search of a specific business, or you can download the entire directory. When you download the directory, the system will prompt you to authenticate your download with a series of images to prevent spam and other unauthorized users. For instructions on accessing the CERT Directory and downloading the business list, please click here.
Certification Application Forms
CERT Monthly Workshops
Please note that the CERT monthly workshops are currently canceled due to concerns about COVID-19.
The CERT Certification Program holds a monthly workshop at the Rondo Community Library. These events are to reach out to local Small, Woman-owned, and Minority-owned businesses with the aim of introducing local government contracting programs and assisting the business owners with applying for CERT Certifications. At each of these events, we will have on hand several of the following partners - City of St. Paul's Procurement Department, City of Minneapolis Procurement, Ramsey County and Hennepin County's Procurement Departments, St. Paul SCORE Program (business mentorship), LegalCORPS, US Small Business Administration's 8(A) Program to provide resources and answer your questions. Please see flyer for additional information.