Ohio Equal Opportunity Division Moves to Development

Ohio minority-owned and socially and economically disadvantaged businesses now have a one-stop shop where they can get business advice, access capital, and earn certifications to help them land government contracts.

With the start of the state’s fiscal year, the Ohio Equal Opportunity Division became part of the Minority Business Development Division at the Ohio Department of Development (Development).

For eligible businesses, this creates a more efficient process in which they can apply for state certifications and receive no-cost business counseling in the same place. Previously, the Equal Opportunity Division was housed in the Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS).

“This merger streamlines services for minority-, woman-, veteran-owned, and economically disadvantaged business owners seeking assistance,” Development Director Lydia Mihalik said. “We’re excited about the opportunity to expand our services to businesses that are so important to the Ohio economy.”

Certifications now available within Development’s Minority Business Development Division and Development’s network of Minority Business Assistance Centers across the state include:

*   Minority Business Enterprise (MBE): An MBE-certified business must be owned and controlled by a U.S. citizen who is a resident of Ohio and a member of one or more of the following minority groups: Blacks or African Americans, American Indians, Hispanics or Latinos, and Asians, in addition to other criteria.

*   Woman-owned Business Enterprise (WBE): A WBE-certified business must be owned and controlled by a woman who is a U.S. citizen and has an established residency in the state of Ohio or a reciprocal state, in addition to other criteria.

*   Veteran-friendly Business Enterprise (VBE): Businesses must meet criteria based on U.S. military service.

*   Encouraging Diversity, Growth, and Equity (EDGE): An EDGE-certified business must be owned and controlled by a U.S. citizen who is a resident of Ohio. A business may qualify for EDGE certification if its owner is both socially and economically disadvantaged or the business is located in a qualified census tract and the owner is economically disadvantaged, in addition to other criteria.

In addition to providing certification services, the division is responsible for providing access to financing and capital for eligible businesses and overseeing the Minority Business Assistance Centers, which include seven host organizations and 14 offices and satellite offices around Ohio.

The state budget also included two new loan programs, one to support woman-owned businesses and a micro-loan program for minority businesses. More information about the two loan programs will be available soon.

To learn more about the Minority Business Development Division, visit Minority.Development.Ohio.gov> or email Minority@Development.Ohio.gov.