Frequently Asked Questions


Equal Business Opportunity Program

City of Tampa Ordinance 2008-89 promotes supplier diversity through viable contracting opportunities for small and ethnic-minority/women owned businesses in City procurement.  The Office of Minority and Small Business Development (MBD) is charged with implementing the provisions of City Code and achieving results-oriented objectives for equal business opportunities.  MBD’s mission has two main components, the Small Local Business Enterprise (SLBE) Program and the Women/Minority Business Enterprise (WMBE) Program.  The Ordinance also mandates evaluating program performance through developing Diversity Management Information System (DMI) reports which delineate utilization of SLBEs and WMBEs on the basis of total procurement, total dollars awarded and total actual payments. 

Program Policy Objective

The Equal Business Opportunity Program is the primary initiative and open to all independently owned small businesses, including WMBEs that have operated for a minimum of one year and meet the business size standards and gross receipt limits.  The program is ethnic and gender-neutral, with an emphasis on small businesses in the Tampa Bay area. The business owner must have permanent residence in Florida, and the company must be domiciled in the SLBE Market area (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, Pasco, and Manatee Counties).  The second component is the WMBE Program, which is ethnic and gender focused and requires validation of 51% WMBE ownership/control. The program establishes narrowly-tailored initiatives for WMBEs which are promulgated on a legal basis and predicated on multi-year statistical evidence of disparity.  When it is determined that disparity/underutilization exists for a given group, the Ordinance includes provisions that allow use of mandatory WMBE participation goals.  The goals or remedies are specific to the affected group and industry category where disparity/underutilization is found (i.e. narrowly tailored).

General FAQs

Women in Minority Business Enterprise Program

Q. How do I get certified as a Women/Minority Business Enterprise (WMBE)?
A. You must complete an application: On-line at   Veiwable sample application for certification (PDF, 124kb).

Q. How does the WMBE Program work?
A. The WMBE program provides notification of bidding opportunities of the services you have identified to the City. Notification is either by DemandStar/Quotewire or direct solicitation.

Q. How long does it take to get certified?
A. Your company can be certified within 60 days of receipt of all required information.  However, in the event a City opportunity arises that requires WMBE or SLBE certification, your applicant can be expedited.

Small Local Business Enterprise Program (FAQs)

Q. Are there any special requirements for the Small Local Business Enterprise Program (SLBE)?
A. If your business is located in either Hillsborough, Pasco, Polk, Pinellas or Manatee County, has been in operation for at least one year, has 25 or fewer permanent, full-time employees, and gross revenues averaged over 3 years does not exceed 2 million dollars, then you may qualify.

Q. How do I bid for SLBE projects?
A. Once you are certified, the City of Tampa will automatically notify you of any upcoming bids for the services you identified you can perform.

Q. How do I get certified as a Small Local Business Enterprise (SLBE)?
A. You must complete an application: On-line at   Viewable sample application for certification (PDF, 124kb).


Q. If my company is a City of Tampa certified WMBE/SLBE the contract amount ultimately will be credited to prime WMBE/SLBE participation, do I still have to meet the subcontracting goal?

A. Yes, the City expects all WMBE/SLBE Prime bidders to make a good faith effort to achieve the subcontracting goals.  WMBE/SLBE primes are not exempt from soliciting certified subcontractors if subcontractors are to be used.


Bidders are to submit (as part of their bids) documentation of their good faith outreach to solicit certified firms in providing the work for the contract, bid or proposal.

Q. What are good faith efforts?

A. Good faith efforts are the actions and methods taken by the bidder to achieve the subcontracting goals.

Q. How should I document my company's good faith efforts?

A. All bidders must complete and submit (as part of their bid) the form entitled "Compliance Plan for Small Local Business Subcontracting."

Q. If my company achieves the subcontracting goals do I have to document its good faith efforts?

A. No, however, all bidders must submit the Compliance Plan form at a minimum. Bidders that meet or exceed the goal need only mark the first check-box on the form.  The ten (10) action steps required under the Compliance Plan documentation need not be reported.

Q. Who will review my documentation and why?

A. The staff of the MBD Office will review the veracity of good faith efforts.  The information will assist the City in determining bidder responsiveness to bid requirements for award.

Q. How do I identify the City of Tampa certified SLBEs that perform the type of work I plan to subcontract?

A. The listing of City certified SLBEs is updated monthly and is available on-line .   Bidders should use the most current SLBE directory on that site at the time the bid is advertised.

Q. Must I solicit all SLBEs listed under each trade or service identified for subcontracting opportunities or is it sufficient to solicit only a few under each category?

A. We encourage bidders to solicit all SLBEs listed under the trades or services identified for subcontracting.

Q. Can I solicit SLBE subcontractors by fax?

A. Yes.  We encourage SLBE solicitation by fax.  Fax confirmation reports should be included with the completed Compliance Plan form as  part of the documentation of SLBE solicitation efforts.

Q. What should I do if the fax transmission does not go through or if I cannot find a fax number for a SLBE?

A. Make at least two attempts to send the fax.  If you cannot identify a fax number for an SLBE, send the solicitation letter by standard U.S. mail and try to telephone the SLBE.  Keep a copy of the mailed letter and, if necessary, include it in the bid package with notes explaining what occurred.  Send all solicitations in sufficient time to allow SLBEs to prepare a bid or quote.  Keep a log of all outreach.

Q. To show good faith efforts, is it enough for me to submit a statement that economically feasible portions of work were selected for subcontracting to SLBEs?

A. No, you should submit a copy of the lists of the trades and services which you sent to SLBEs when you solicited their bids and quotes.

Q. How do I determine the "economically feasible portions of work" for subcontracting opportunities?

A. Bidders should review the City's plans and specifications to determine the trades and services required to complete the project and review the current SLBE Directory to identify the SLBEs that provide those trades and services.

Q. The City?s plans and specifications include a copy of the goal setting worksheet that lists scopes of work with the names of SLBEs.  Am I required to use those scopes of work as my subcontracting opportunities?

A. Yes, we suggest those scopes of work as a minimum guideline where availability has already been determined for you.  However, the goal setting worksheet is sometimes prepared months in advance.  Therefore, you should also use the current monthly SLBE directory for currently certified SLBEs.

Q. Should I also identify additional subcontracting opportunities?

A. Copies of the goal setting worksheets are provided for the bidders' convenience.  When you have not met the goals, you should also consider other subcontracting opportunities for which SLBEs are available 

Q. If I can do the work with my own employees , do I still have to try to use certified SLBEs?

A. Bidders should make a "good faith effort" to meet the goals.  If a bidder intends to self-perform a scope of work that is listed on the goal setting worksheet, he should try to identify other subcontracting opportunities of equal or greater value that will assure the possibility of meeting the goals.  In this instance, submit a written statement identifying the substituted trade or service and its estimated dollar value.

Q. Is there ever an instance when I do not need to document negotiations with an SLBE?

A. Bidders do not need to document negotiations with an SLBE when another SLBE will be performing the same scope of work.

Q. On what type of negotiations with SLBEs must I submit documentation?  What if an SLBE?s price is too high?

A. Never ask an SLBE if it can "beat" a certain price.  It is O.K. to ask for the SLBE's "best and final" offer or to discuss incomplete scopes of work or to negotiate with the SLBE about performing only a specific portion of work within a trade or service.  Negotiating is not bid shopping.

Q. At what point in the process should I offer assistance and to what extent am I required to assist SLBEs?

A. The offer of assistance should be made in the solicitation letter.  Bidders should offer to make plans and specifications available to SLBEs.  Additionally, bidders might refer SLBEs to the bidders bonding company, insurance company or financial institutions to meet the bidders' requirements in these areas.

Q. Am I ever required to waive bonding, insurance or financing requirements for a SLBE subcontractor?

A. No, SLBEs should be held to the same standards as non-SLBE subcontractors (no more, no less).  However, a bidder may choose to waive requirements for SLBEs at the bidder's discretion.

Q. Must I use a SLBEs quote even if I receive a lower quote from a non-SLBE?

A. No, however, you should ask SLBEs for their "best and final" offer and submit, as part of your bid, applicable documentation (for example: a copy of the SLBE's quote, a copy of the quote for the non-SLBE that will be used instead, an estimate of the fair market value of the work, or whatever is applicable) and submit a written statement about negotiations with the SLBE.

Q. Can a determination of non-qualification be made prior to contacting the SLBE?

A. Yes, a SLBE can be determined unqualified if you are currently in litigation with the SLBE or if you have a preponderance of evidence of the SLBE's demonstratable inferior performance.

Q. For what other reasons might an SLBE be considered unqualified?

A. Reasons for which an SLBE might be considered unqualified are (but are not limited to) failure to meet licensing, bonding, insurance, financial, or experience requirements that are expected of any other non-SLBE subcontractor.