Onondaga Biz Wiz

How to Set Yourself Apart

Small Business Development Center OCC

Does your business qualify for a Minority or Woman-Owned Enterprise (MWBE) certification?

Small Business Diversity is a blog presented in partnership with the SBDC at Onondaga Community College and is part of the New York State Small Business Development Centers, a  network of 25 regional centers supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the NYS Department of Education/SUNY, and the national SBDC system.

By Melissa Zomro, SBDC Business Advisor

A wise person once said: do not go into battle without your weapons.

As a small business owner going to work daily is like going into a battlefield. A small business person is a warrior; struggling daily to be on top and strive against all the odds to be a survivor while fighting to do what he or she loves. Until you have been a small business owner, a person really doesn’t fully understand the term “fighting to survive.”

Minority Contractor[3]One weapon a small business owner can utilize to help their war effort is to see if his or her business qualifies for a certification in being a Minority or Woman-Owned Enterprise (MWBE). According to the New York State Government, 30% of government contract work must be completed by a Minority or Woman-Owned Enterprise. The word on the street is that this percentage will only be increasing.

If you market products or services to any government agency, a certification may open doors to contracts or sales that are not typically available to non-certified firms. Certification should be part of an overall sales and marketing strategy. Take the time to research your current and targeted customers, asking:

  • What diversity spending goals do my customers have?
  • Does this client buy what I sell directly from a diversity business, or do they ask prime vendors to make the acquisition for them?
  • What certification(s) does this individual customer accept?

The answers to these questions might pleasantly surprise you.

How do you know if you qualify as a MWBE?  Take a few minutes and check out these sites to help you better understand the requirements and steps to become certified:


On this site they provide helpful tips and tools to complete the online applications and detailed program eligibility requirements.  You will find everything you need to get started right here:


Where can you get information on what programs exist for MWBE’s?  Try this website:


How about local options?

We at the Small Business Development Center along with New York State, Empire State Development, SBA, OCC, ABC Empire State Chapter, and The Surety and Fidelity Association of America are hosting the 2015 MWBE and Small Business Contractor Bond Readiness Training Program. The focus is on providing MWBE and small business contractors with training, technical assistance and credit support to secure surety bonds necessary for state contracts. Businesses that have never been bonded or require increased bonding capacity will benefit from this statewide program. This six evening/six sessions in February is FREE to all participants.

To register or for more information

Email: [email protected]
Ph: (315) 498 – 6066

For information on MWBE certification for the city go to the City of Syracuse website listed below. The City of Syracuse has the same certification requirements as the state of New York.


You may think being certified will entitle you to extra money from the government. Guess again. You still have to bid on jobs, work tirelessly, and promote endlessly. A small business has to advocate daily, networking constantly, and call on allies for back up ground support.

Remember that being a small business owner is like being a warrior going to the battle field. Win the battle every day.

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