Certified Business Enterprise Certification: Breaking Down Home Office Barriers

If you’ve spent the past year working from home or outside D.C., you might have missed out on valuable procurement opportunities. The D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development gives preference to Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) certified companies – meaning that CBE-certified organizations get the first look when competing for government contracts.

What is a Certified Business Enterprise

The Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) program is a certification program offered by the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) in the District of Columbia. The program is designed to promote economic growth and development by providing contracting and procurement opportunities to local businesses that meet certain criteria.

To become a CBE, a business must meet specific requirements related to ownership, size, and location. The business must be at least 51% owned and controlled by District residents, and must have its headquarters located in the District. Additionally, the business must meet certain size standards based on its industry.

Once certified, CBEs are eligible for a range of benefits, including priority consideration for District government contracts and procurement opportunities. They may also be eligible for technical assistance, training, and other resources to help them grow and succeed.

Why Businesses Need CBE Certification?

There are many compelling reasons why your business should pursue CBE certification. By becoming a Certified Business Enterprise, you gain access to a wide range of benefits, including preferred procurement and contracting opportunities. The District of Columbia actively directs its spending towards local businesses, recognizing their crucial role in job creation and the city’s tax base. This not only strengthens the local economy but also fosters a sense of community and support within the District.

Moreover, each agency, including those operating through the Office of Contracting and Procurement (OCP), is required to prioritize contracting and procurement with CBEs. Additionally, agencies are mandated to meet annual goals, ensuring that 50 percent of the dollar volume of goods and services, including construction goods and services, is procured from Small Business Enterprises (SBEs). By obtaining CBE certification, your business aligns with these objectives, positioning itself for growth and success within the District’s dynamic business landscape.

CBE Certification Favors D.C. Locals

CBE Certification was established to prioritize D.C. locals in contracting bids. A September 2020 amendment from Mayor Muriel Bowser further strengthened the CBE legislation, closing loopholes and gaps to keep local dollars in the community. To maintain CBE certification, businesses must now:

  • be independently owned and operated (i.e., without a controlling stake from out-of-state parent companies)
  • have a primary office within D.C.

Importantly, businesses may no longer use the “asset test” to establish eligibility as a local business. Again, this is to prevent out-of-state parent companies from claiming contracts earmarked for local businesses or consultants.

Keep Your Business Close to Home

One of the first steps towards becoming CBE certified is claiming an address in Washington D.C. According to the DSLBD, your principal office must be physically located in the District of Columbia. Not only that, but your CEO and principal officers must work out of that space at least half of the time.

If you’ve been working from home, in a non-dedicated temporary space such as a coffee shop, or on a distributed basis, your business might not be putting its best foot forward when it comes to CBE eligibility. Fortunately, by leasing a coworking space at District Offices you’ll not only get to claim a D.C. address for CBE purposes, but you’ll enjoy access to affordable, flexible, and well-located premises close to D.C’s key addresses.

Our central location not only helps you meet the “local” requirement of CBE certification but makes it easier for you to do business with local businesses and organizations – fulfilling the requirement that 50% of gross receipts must come from the District.

A CBE-Friendly Address with Perks

Choosing District Offices for your office address is a smart play. Our versatile office spaces in Farragut, Georgetown, Pennsylvania Avenue, and Capitol Hill allow you to strategically headquarter your business in D.C.’s most sought-after areas close to prospective clients without the traditional outlay associated with a full-service office in the heart of D.C.

With us, you’ll gain the benefits of a local D.C. address, as well as a fully amenitized office equipped with meeting rooms, conference rooms, and more. And because our services are “on-demand”, we can have you set up almost instantly – you won’t have to shop for spaces and spend time negotiating a lease or outfitting a building. All of this translates to first-mover advantage and contracts won!

For more information about how an office address at a District Offices location can help you become CBE certified, contact us. Our team can walk you through the CBE process and requirements.


Contact us to discuss your needs, book a tour, or secure the perfect space for your business.


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