January 25, 2022

Volume XII, Number 25

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January 24, 2022

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What is a NAICS code and why is it important to your DBE/MBE/WBE certification?

If your company is applying for Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) or Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certification, you will need to provide your company’s NAICS code(s), also sometimes referred to as your primary industry classification.

NAICS stands for North American Industry Classification System and is a standard used by federal agencies to classify businesses. You can look up appropriate NAICS codes here: https://www.naics.com/search/.

For DBE certification, a company will only be certified under the NAICS codes where the disadvantaged owner(s) can show that they can control the firm. 49 C.F.R. §26.71(n).  For example, if the owner spent their entire career managing a retail store, then purchased a manufacturing company, they may have a difficult time showing that they have the knowledge and experience necessary to control a manufacturing company.  The company will only be certified in the NAICS codes where it can demonstrate the owner has that control and the company can perform that work, and those NAICS codes will appear on the certification certificate.

Similarly, applications for WBE and MBE certification must demonstrate the ability to control their business in the industries indicated by their NAICS codes.

If a business expands and wishes to become certified under additional NAICS codes, it must follow the process set forth by the certifying agency to demonstrate the ability to control the business in that area and perform that work.

Finally, if you are a WBE, you may want to see if becoming a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB) or Economically Disadvantaged Women Owned Small Business (EDWOSB). The federal program provide additional opportunities for businesses holding these certifications, and are specific to certain NAICS codes.

©2022 Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & GefskyNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 278
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About this Author

Danielle L. Dietrich SMGG Attorney Pittsburgh, PA
Shareholder

Danielle L. Dietrich, Shareholder in the Pittsburgh Office of SMGG, focuses her practice in the areas of women and diverse-owned businesses, healthcare, elder law and litigation.  She has a broad range of experience in providing legal counsel and advice to her clients (both large and small), as well as having handled a wide range of disputes and litigation in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

A large portion of Ms. Dietrich’s practice focuses on the representation of women and diverse-owned businesses.  That practice includes assisting these...

(412) 281-5423
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