We were pleased to announce this week that client Southern Ute Alternative Energy, LLC received certification as a Minority-owned Business Entity (MBE) from the California Supplier Clearinghouse.  Southern Ute Alternative Energy, LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s Growth Fund (www.sugf.com).

Under General Order 156, the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) requires large investor-owned utilities and their regulated subsidiaries in California to implement programs that expand their business relationships with woman- and minority-owned businesses (“WMBEs”).  The Clearinghouse is a CPUC-supervised entity that audits and verifies the status of WMBEs, and maintains a database of woman, minority, and service disabled veteran owned businesses that is accessible to both the CPUC and participating utilities. Obtaining official MBE status can make a company an attractive partner for California power utilities seeking to promote MBE business opportunities under General Order 156.

There are several ways to secure status in California for a minority owned business.  The options include the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development Program (SBA 8(a)), as well as the CPUC certification process utilized by Southern Ute Alternative Energy, LLC.  While these three certification processes are similar, selection of the certification process is a strategic one, guided by the business purpose and the types of contracts the minority owned business desires to secure.

To meet their diversity mandates or priorities, private and public sector firms search for minority-owned suppliers through programs that have formal certification processes. Without the necessary certification,  eligible businesses stand to miss out on opportunities ranging from branding benefits to reduced-competition in securing a public contract.