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Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program

COVID-19 and travel at SEA Airport More Information

  • The Port is operating under race-conscious goals on its federally assisted projects. Learn about the Port’s 2020-2022 DBE Program Plan.

The Diversity in Contracting Department has two distinct programs: The Women and Minority Business Enterprise (W/MBE) Program and the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program. The DBE Program is a federal program that was established in accordance with U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations 49 CFR Part 26. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) falls under the USDOT; thereby FAA funds are received and allocated for specific Port projects, unlike WMBE projects which are not funded by federal funds. DBE program guidelines and procedures aid in ensuring DBEs have equal opportunity to compete for contracts, subcontracts, and agreements in the award and administration of DOT-assisted contracts.

It is our policy to:
  • Ensure nondiscrimination in the award of DOT-assisted contracts
  • Create a level playing field on which DBEs can compete fairly for DOT-assisted contracts
  • Ensure a firm meets federal eligibility standards (49 CFR Part 26) prior to participation in the DBE Program
  • Assist in identifying and removing barriers to participation for DBEs in federally assisted contracts
  • Assist in the development of DBEs to increase their competitiveness in the marketplace

Upcoming for 2021

The focus of the DBE Program will be the following:
1. Increase DBE Participation on FAA funded Port projects
2. Conduct informational sessions for upcoming DBE projects
3. Collaborate with state and local transportation agencies to increase technical assistance training for DBEs

Below are a few frequently asked questions about the Port's DBE program. If you have any additional questions, please email us at diversityincontracting@portseattle.org.

What Is a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)?

A DBE is a business owned by an individual who is socially and economically disadvantaged with at least a 51% interest in a business in which they have control of management and the daily business operations. The individual/majority owner must have a personal net worth less than $1.32 million and be of the following ethnicities: African American, Hispanic, Native American, AsianPacific Islander, or Subcontinent Asian American. Women (overall) are presumed to be socially and economically disadvantaged.

It is the policy of the Port of Seattle to ensure that DBEs, as defined in 49 CFR Part 26, have an equal opportunity to compete for contracts, subcontracts, and agreements in the award, participation, and administration of USDOT–assisted contracts.

How do I become certified as a DBE?

Firms seeking to be federally certified as a DBE should contact the Office of Minority and Women Business Enterprises (OMWBE). Information on the eligibility criteria, instructions, and certification materials can be found online or provided by phone at (866) 208-1064.

Are Primes required to utilize DBEs, or can WMBEs or SBEs be used on projects?

Yes, Prime contractors are required to utilize DBE firms on federally funded projects. They may also use WMBE or SBE firms; however, the participation of those firms will not count toward the DBE required goal utilization. 

Do DBEs have to reapply for certification?

No. However, DBE firms are required to update changes to their firm’s information per their certification agency’s requirements. 

How is the DBE goal calculated?

The DBE goal is calculated based on the number of certified and available firms within the NAICS code and the scope of work needed for the specified project.

What if I am looking to operate an airport concession?

The Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE) program requires a similar certification and more information can be found by visiting the OMWBE website. The Airport Dining and Retail Department manages this program for the Port. Visit the Airport Dining and Retail site for more information and browse through their ACDBE Goals and Methodology presentation for an overview of the program's fundamentals. 

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