Firms interested in becoming certified as minority (MBE), woman (FBE), or disabled person-owned business (PBE) with the State of Illinois can do so through the Department of Central Management Services (CMS) Business Enterprise Program (BEP).
If a potential MBE, FBE, or PBE is already certified as such with another entity, including the Illinois Unified Certification Program for disadvantaged businesses enterprises; the City of Chicago, and Cook County, they can apply for a fast-track reciprocal certification from CMS. If not, they can submit the regular application with for BEP participation.
Does this local/state program offer reciprocal certifications with other local/state programs? Yes, there is a recognition agreement plan with the following entities: City of Chicago, Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Illinois Department of Transportation, METRA, PACE, Cook County, Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council, Mid-States Minority Supplier Development Council, and Women’s Business Development Center.
Does this certification expire? Approved certification is valid for five years with an annual No Change Affadavit process. A recognition certification from CMS for certification with another valid entity is valid for one year.
Is any loan or bonding assistance provided through this program? The Advantage Illinois package consists of three programs to facilitate institutional lending to small businesses and one program for securing private venture capital for eligible businesses.