Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Get answers to common questions and more specific situations about all kinds of businesses.

What certifications do I need to contract with State departments as a special (women- or minority-owned, veteran-owned, or small) business?

In addition to State Certification, there are a number of State Departments that also require various types of Certification. These include the Department of Transportation, the Department of Environmental Protection, New Jersey Transit and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Details on these Certification programs are outlined below.

New Jersey Department of Transportation

The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) uses Small Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (SDBE) and Emerging Business Enterprise Certifications.

Disadvantaged minority- or women-owned firms are certified by NJDOT in order to qualify them for work designated to be done by SDBEs on federally assisted projects. For additional information write:

New Jersey Department of Transportation

Office of Civil Rights/Contract Compliance

PO Box 600

Trenton, NJ 08625-0600


New Jersey Transit

NJ Transit certifies minority- and women- owned businesses as Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs). Certified DBEs qualify for federally assisted projects.

If you desire to work on New Jersey Transit projects or have additional questions regarding certification you should contact:

New Jersey Transit Corp. Small/DBE Programs

One Penn Plaza E, Second Floor Newark, NJ 07106


The Port Authority of New York/New Jersey

The Port Authority’s Certification Program certifies Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs), Women Business Enterprises (WBEs) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs).

A Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Certification is needed to be eligible on federally assisted projects. For additional information or to obtain an application, contact:

The Port Authority of NY/NJ

Office of Business & Job Opportunity

Newark Legal Center

One Riverfront Plaza, 9th floor

Newark, NJ 07102


Federal 8(a) Certification

The 8(a) Business Development Program is the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) effort to promote equal access for socially and economically disadvantaged individuals to participate in the business sector of the nations’ economy.

The 8(a) Business Development Program is a Small Business Administration’s (SBA) business assistance program for small disadvantaged businesses.The Program offers a broad scope of support to firms that are owned and controlled at least 51% by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals in an effort to give them equal access to participate in the business sector of the nations’ economy.

SBA may provide participating firms with procurement, marketing, financial management or technical assistance. To be eligible for admission to the 8(a) program, a business must be owned, controlled and operated at least 51 percent by one or more persons who are socially and economically disadvantaged, citizens of the United States (aliens, including permanent residents are excluded) and be able to meet other eligibility requirements.

Individuals considered to be socially disadvantaged must meet one of the following definitions:

  • People who have been subject to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias. These include Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, Subcontinent Asian Americans and members of other minority groups designated by SBA.
  • People who are not members of a minority group but can demonstrate with substantial evidence and documentation that they have been subjected to chronic racial or ethnic prejudice, cultural bias or similar circumstances over which the individual had no control, are also eligible.

The individual’s social disadvantage must be chronic, long standing and substantial and have had a negative impact on entry into and/ or advancement in the business world. It must stem from their color, ethnic origin, gender, physical handicap or geographical environment.

One must demonstrate personal suffering and not merely claim membership in a non- designated group.

To be eligible for participation in the 8(a) program, the applicant must also be economically disadvantaged.

To determine economic disadvantage, SBA will consider the following: Personal and business assets, personal and business net worth, personal and business income and profits, as well as success in obtaining adequate financing, bonding and credit.

Individuals whose personal worth exceeds $250,000, excluding the individual’s ownership interest in the applicant concern and the equity in their primary residence, will not be considered economically disadvantaged for purposes of 8(a) program entry.

The individuals upon whom eligibility is based must be engaged full time in the daily management and operation of the business.

For more information about the 8(a) program eligibility requirements, call 973-645-4651.

Interested persons can now apply for the 8(a) Business Development Program online.

8(a) Electronic Applications are available here.

Small Disadvantaged Business Program

The SBA’s Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) Program augments SBA’s Business Development Program. This program allows businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals to receive a ten (10) percent evaluation preference when bidding on certain federal contracts.

It also gives them preference when dealing with large government contractors. To qualify, a disadvantaged individual or individuals, who are U.S. citizens, must own 51 percent or more of the business and must devote full-time employment to its daily management.

The criteria for establishing disadvantaged status are very similar to that of SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program.

For further information on the Small Disadvantaged Business Certification Program, call 973-645-4651. Submit applications online at

HUBZone Empowerment Contracting Program

The HUBZone Empowerment Contracting Program seeks to encourage economic development in historically underutilized business zones – “HUBZones” – through the establishment of preferences for award of federal contracts to small businesses located in such areas.

In order to qualify for the program, a firm must be located within a designated HUBZone area. (Please refer to the SBA New Jersey District Office Website for locations in New Jersey which are currently included in the HUBZone initiative).

Further requirements are that the firm must be a small business that is owned and controlled at least 51 percent by U.S. citizens and at least 35 percent of its employees are HUBZone residents.

HUBZone firms have the opportunity to negotiate sole source contracts and participate in restricted competition limited to HUBZone firms. Small businesses located in HUBZone areas will be allowed a ten (10) percent price evaluation preference in full and open competition.

HUBZones are determined by census tracts, which have street-by-street boundaries. For that reason, SBA strongly suggests the use of the HUBZone locator system to define the boundaries of each HUBZone.

Details on the HUBZone Program legislation, eligibility requirements, applications, timeframes and benefits are all available at

All applicants are encouraged to apply electronically though the SBA Web site. All inquiries about the program should be directed to, or the New Jersey HUBZone Liaison at 973-645-3729.

For further information, contact:

U.S. Small Business Administration 8(a) Business Development

Two Gateway Center, 15th Floor Newark, NJ 07102


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