How to Become a Certified Vendor in San Francisco

According to a recent survey from Lending Tree, San Francisco is the top metro area in the country for minority-owned businesses. And data from San Francisco Business Times shows that woman-owned businesses are thriving in the Bay Area too. Many of these firms have taken advantage of the city’s vendor certification programs, which provide access to contracts, bid discounts and more. So, if you’re doing business in the Bay Area or plan to relocate there, learn more about these certifications programs to see if you qualify.

Local Business Enterprise/PUC Local Business Enterprise

A businesses that is certified as either Local Business Enterprise(LBE) or Public Utilities Local Business Enterprise (PUC/LBE) will qualify for a bid discount or rating bonus points when bidding as the the prime contractor on a city project or project controlled by the PUC. Bid discounts are determined by the business’ average gross revenues over the preceding three years. Micro firms with average revenues of between $10 million and $1.25 million (depending on industry) qualify for the largest discounts. The city and PUC also set aside a portion of their contracts for Micro firms.


LBE certification is only open to firms based in San Francsco proper. PUC/LBE certification is open to licensed contractors, construction material suppliers and/or trucking and hauling service providers whose principal place of business is located anywhere within the Hetch Hetchy watershed area controlled by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). This area encompasses a large part of the San Francisco metro area, including San Francisco, Half Moon Bay, San Jose and the East Bay (see map)

To qualify for either certification, the business must be in continuous operation for a minimum of six months, and be owned and operated by a resident(s) of United States. Additionally, the firm must have a current business license and be able to show that that the majority of the principals operate out of the company’s principal place of business as defined under Adminsitrative Code Chapter 14B.  

Minority or Woman-Owned LBE

This certification is granted to LBEs who are at least 51 percent owned and operated by either a woman or ethnic minority. As with other MWBE certifications, the owner must demonstrate the qualifications necessary to operate the business and have current LBE certification. Minority or woman-owned business enterprises do not qualify for any additional benefits or discounts. The City merely uses this designation to track the availability and utilization of MWBEs.  

Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE)

ACDBE certification is granted under the California Unified Certification Program. Through this program, minority and woman-owned businesses can become certified as Disadvantaged Business Enterprises under the U.S. Department of Transportation DBE program and gain access to contracting opportunities at airport concessions operating at the SF International Airport.

Note: San Francisco International Airport does not at this time have a requirement that contractors be ACDBE certified. The certification is only beneficial if there is a certification requirement on the concession’s lease.   

About The Carmoon Group

The Carmoon Group Ltd. is a minority-owned insurance brokerage headquartered in Hicksville, New York. Through our large network of nationwide affiliates, we offer risk management solutions and comprehensive insurance programs for businesses in a wide range of industries. We have the expertise and experience to provide you optimal coverage at the best possible price. So why not give us a call today to set up an appointment for your insurance review? Or if you prefer, just reach out online and we’ll get back to you at a convenient time.

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