CERT logo 2018

Twin Cities local governments are using our power as purchasers to expand economic opportunity locally.

Saint Paul has teamed up with Minneapolis, Ramsey County, and Hennepin County to do more business with local companies who have historically been shut out of the economic benefits of municipal contracting — emerging and small businesses, and enterprises owned by women and minority communities. The Central Certification Program, or CERT, is how we do it.

The CERT program makes it easier for  small businesses in this area  to do business with these local governments:

A map of counties in the Twin Cities area: Anoka, Benton, Carver, Chisago, Dakota, Hennepin, Isanti, Ramsey, Scott, Sherburne, Stearns, Washington and Wright counties in Minnesota, and Pierce and  St. Croix Counties in Wisoconsin.
Residents shop at Keg and Case Market in Saint Paul

Search the CERT Vendor Directory

If your company or organization wants to do more business with emerging, small, women-owned, and BIPOC-owned enterprises in the greater Twin Cities, this virtual marketplace is the best place to start.

How to Apply for CERT Certification

The CERT application is easy! We just need to know about your business to verify that it is small and engages in the business practices it is advertised to do. This makes sure that government partners and others looking for small businesses can find you. 

Here is a step-by-step guide.

Look up your NAICS code

First, find your company’s North American Industry Code. You will need this six-digit number to determine if your business is eligible for CERT. (Your NAICS code is handy to know for other applications, too.) 

Check eligibility for CERT

Make sure your business is eligible for the CERT program. To qualify, your company must be: 

  • a small business by revenue, 
  • majority owned by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, 
  • based principally in the 15-county Twin Cities metro area (shown above), 
  • in business for at least one year (or with other documentation), 
  • not a broker, manufacturer’s representative, or franchisee, and
  • not dominant in its field of operation. 

If you’d like, your certification can also indicate if your company is majority owned by a woman, an Asian-American or Pacific Islander, a Native American, an African-American, or a Hispanic person. 

Get your documents together

Assemble electronic versions of the documents you will need ahead of time. You will need:

  • A résumé and statement of job duties for each owner, officer, or manager.
  • Proof of income. You will need documents which show the yearly gross income of the company using tax returns or other documentation.
  • IRS Form W-9. You can get this form from the IRS website.
  • State business filings. You will need documents filed with the state legally recognizing your company as a business entity, like corporate articles of organization or an LLC’s operating agreement. You can find them by searching the directories of Minnesota business filings or Wisconsin corporate records
  • You may need other business documents that show how your company operates, like corporate minutes, bylaws, or ownership agreements.

During the application process, you will also be asked to download, sign, and submit two other documents: a New Application Attestation and a Tennessen Warning Notice


Now you are ready to start your application. You will create an account, then enter your business information and upload your documents. 

Optional: Attend a free online training

In these free virtual training sessions, a friendly CERT expert explains more about the program and answers your questions.

Last Edited: June 17, 2024