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What is the DBE/ ACDBE Program?

The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program ensures the qualification of minority, women or other disadvantaged owned and operated businesses for participation on USDOT funded contracts.

Purpose for the Program and What it Means

  • Promote business growth through INDOT opportunities
  • Differences exist among the type of businesses working on highway construction projects
  • Federal dollars spent on highway construction projects are not spent on MWBEs
  • MWBEs are not visible on heavy highway projects
  • DBE Certification will create an opportunity for MWBEs on highway construction projects
  • DBE Certification will create an opportunity for MWBEs with the airports and transit agencies

ACDBE stands for “Airport Concession Disadvantaged Business Enterprise.” It is a companion program to the more familiar Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program, but targets the concession side of FAA spending.

  • What is a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise?

    A DBE is defined by 49 CFR 26.5 as a for-profit small business concern: That is at least 51% owned by one or more individuals who are both socially and economically disadvantaged; and whose management and daily business operations are controlled by one or more of the socially and economically disadvantaged owners.

  • What is an Airport Concession?

    As taken from 49 CFR 23:

    Concession means one or more of the types of for-profit businesses listed in paragraph (1) or (2) of this definition:

    (1) A business, located on an airport subject to this part, that is engaged in the sale of consumer goods or services to the public under an agreement with the recipient, another concessionaire, or the owner or lessee of a terminal, if other than the recipient.

    (2) A business conducting one or more of the following covered activities, even if it does not maintain an office, store or other business location on an airport subject to this part, as long as the activities take place on the airport: management contracts and subcontracts, a web-based or other electronic business in a terminal or which passengers can access at the terminal, an advertising business that provides advertising displays or messages to the public on the airport, or a business that provides goods and services to concessionaires.

    In practice, the concessionaires can be divided into two basic types. The first are the retail concessions selling food and goods or services to the public, such as restaurants, magazine stands, or salons. The second is the rental cars.

  • What Does this Mean?

    Within the confines of FAA spending, it opens up USDOT’s program to businesses that would not normally operate within the traditional transportation industry. It potentially allows participation of qualifying businesses across the retail spectrum, from the advertisers and suppliers servicing the concessionaires, to those selling goods and services to the airport travelers directly.

  • How Does the Program Achieve this Goal?

    Most U.S. DOT assisted transportation projects have a DBE participation goal. Each year, INDOT is required to review its DBE goal, and if necessary, make adjustments based on its three-year aspirational goal. INDOT’s goal for the October 2017-September 2019 period is 10.9% DBE participation. FTA and FAA goals are set by their respective organizations.

  • Who Certifies ACDBE/ DBE Businesses in Indiana?

    The Indiana Department of Transportation’s Equity Initiative Services is the sole certifier of ACDBE and DBE businesses in Indiana.

  • What is the Benefit to My Business?

    Every year in Indiana there are millions of transportation, or transportation related, dollars in potential ACDBE/DBE contracting opportunities. Becoming a member of the ACDBE/ DBE community provides excellent networking opportunities with other ACDBE/DBEs, prime contractors, and state agencies that work with small businesses. ACDBE/ DBES may participate in a variety of supportive services, including training and technical assistance.

    Benefits of the Program

    • Obtain business growth through INDOT opportunities
    • Exposure to Prime contractors
    • Roadmap for FHWA work
      • Contractor
      • Consultant
    • Roadmap for FTA work
      • Contractor
      • Consultant
    • Roadmap for FAA work
      • Contractor
      • Consultant
    • Network with similar types of business
    • Better the lifestyle for you and your family
    • Increase your income/ personal net worth
    • Offers training and tech assistance
  • Do I Qualify?

    The DBE program is unique, as it considers the personal economic situation of the applicant firm owner(s).

    Under 49 CFR 26, to qualify for the program, an applicant must:

    • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
    • Possess expertise in the field
    • Control daily business operations
    • Have a personal net worth of less than

    $1,320,000 (excluding the value of their primary residence and assets of the firm applying for DBE certification).

    The following groups are presumed by law to be socially and economically disadvantaged:

    • Black Americans
    • Asian-Pacific Americans
    • Hispanic Americans
    • Native Americans
    • Subcontinent Asian-Americans
    • Women

    Others, such as the disabled and veterans, may apply on an individual basis. In these situations, the burden of proof to meet both social and economic disadvantage rests with the applicant.

  • Does My Business Qualify?

    To qualify as a DBE/ ACDBE, the company must be a small business as defined by the Small Business Association (SBA) which means:

    • The firm’s average annual gross receipts may not exceed SBA size standards for its assigned NAICS code(s).
    • In any case, the firm’s gross annual receipts may not exceed a $30.40 million average over the previous five fiscal years.

    The primary differences revolve around business size standards. Because of the potential scale of airport retail operations, the size standards are different. Instead of the familiar $23.98 million in gross receipts, the cap is $56.42 million generally. However, the gross receipts cap for car rental companies is set at $75.23 million. For a more thorough listing, you may reference 49 CFR 23.33.

  • How Do I Apply?

    We do not accept paper applications. All applications must be submitted through Indiana’s ITAP system. Visit our website to set up your ITAP account and complete the application process.

    New Application Instructions

    Please note: The AC/DBE application works best in the web browser of Edge and Google Chrome, this could be with the area that state’s the application is not compatible with a phone.

  • What Happens After I Apply?

    Once submitted, your application will be assigned to a certification specialist, and they will schedule a site visit for in-state applicants.

    After receipt of the application and all requested documentation, please allow up to 90 days for processing of in-state applications and up to 60 days for inter-state applications.

  • Are There Any Special Considerations?
    • Time Commitment. Check with the airport where you are considering doing business. The airport’s busy time may be from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m.  Are you going to be able to provide staffing  during those times? Also, airports may ask for your business to stay open if they have delayed or cancelled flights. Do you have the flexibility to handle these requests?
    • Security. Airports often have special security requirements. Make sure you understand exactly what these requirements are and how to comply before you enter into a contractual agreement at an airport. Many of these requirements are not local but mandated by the federal government.
  • What is the DBE/ACDBE Size Standard?

    You can find the most current DBE/ACDBE size standard at

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