Central (CERT) Certification Program
Saint Paul Bridge Fund for Families and Small Businesses
Like communities across our nation, the City of Saint Paul is responding to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in alignment with the guidance of our public health officials. While all of us adapt to this rapidly changing situation, we have a duty to ensure not only the health and safety of our residents but a responsibility to ensure all of us can find relief amid the economic impact of this pandemic. The Saint Paul Bridge Fund will provide emergency relief for the small businesses and families in our community who need it most.
To learn about the Saint Paul Bridge Fund, please visit our website HERE.
SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program for Small Businesses Affected by the Coronavirus Pandemic
The U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza today launched the Paycheck Protection Program, a $349 billion emergency loan program created last week with the President’s signing of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES). The program provides forgivable loans up to $10 million to small businesses left financially distressed by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The loans, which will be administered at the local level by a national network of banks and credit unions, are designed to maintain the viability of millions of small businesses struggling to meet payroll and day-to-day operating expenses.
For more information and to download the application, please visit the SBA's Paycheck Protection Program website HERE.
CERT Businesses - Coronavirus Employer Resources
Employers can play a crucial role in reducing the spread of COVID-19 by:
- Actively encouraging sick workers to stay home.
- Communicate with your employees about your sick leave policy, and send home employees who arrive to work or fall ill on the job.
- Do not require a health care provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work, as health care provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely way.
- Maintain flexible sick leave policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member.
- Employers should be aware that more employees may need to stay at home to care for sick children or other sick family members than is usual.
- Establish flexible workplace policies and practices, such as telecommuting and flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts), to increase the physical distance among employees and between employees and others
- Perform routine environmental cleaning of workstations, countertops, doorknobs and shared office equipment like printers and copiers.
- Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 (U.S. Department of Labor - Occupational Safety and Health Administration)
- Shared Work Program (Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development)
- Allows employers to divide available hours of work among a group of employees instead of implementing a full layoff. Employees may then receive partial unemployment insurance benefits while working reduced hours.
- Is Your Business COVID-19 Ready? (Minnesota Chamber of Commerce)
- COVID-19 Ramsey County Business Resources (Ramsey County)
Saint Paul is working with state, county, business, and foundation partners to quickly develop other business support resources.
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.