This spring, O’Connor Connective became a certified Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE). Why is this worth celebrating? The process administered by the State of Wisconsin Department of Administration’s Supplier Diversity Program is a lengthy one, and O’Connor Connective’s office manager, Aimee Massie, made the certification possible. Below, she shares with OCC Communications Specialist Lindsay Arndt the details on what it means to be WBE certified and why this is such a great accomplishment for the team at O’Connor Connective.
LA: What is WBE?
AM: WBE stands for Woman-Owned Business Enterprise. To qualify as a WBE, your business must be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more women who are U.S. citizens, your business was formed and is located in the U.S., and your business is managed and operated by one or more of the women owners.
LA: What does it mean to be certified as a WBE?
AM: To be certified as a WBE means the business has gone through a certification process to confirm the business is owned, managed and controlled by a woman or women.
LA: What does a business need to do to become WBE certified?
AM: You become certified by applying online at wisdp.wi.gov. You will need to review a Pre-Certification Self-Assessment to see if you are eligible — the self-assessment is available on the website. The application process is very time-intensive, in which you submit several personal and financial documents to the State of Wisconsin Department of Administration for review and validation of your business.
LA: What are some of the benefits of being a WBE-certified business?
AM: Examples would be the opportunity to acquire more business through Wisconsin’s Supplier Diversity Programs, validation by the State of Wisconsin of ownership, recognition from other area businesses, the option to participate in MARKETPLACE (a statewide business marketing conference), and being listed in the State of Wisconsin’s Directory of Minority, Woman and Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses.
LA: What does it cost to get WBE certified, and how long does the process take?
AM: The cost is $150 for three years; the certification is renewable after three years. Once the application is submitted, the approval process takes about four to six weeks. The recertification process will take place before the three years of certification expire. You will be notified via email that your certification will be up for renewal. You may be asked to supply more financial documentation at the time of recertification.
LA: How many WBEs are in De Pere?
AM: Six, including O’Connor Connective. That said, we know of over 70 women who own businesses in the downtown district. What we hope to see going forward is more businesses applying for this certification if they seek the benefits.
LA: How many are in Brown County?
AM: More than 30, with WBE companies spread out through Green Bay and neighboring communities such as De Pere, New Franken, Suamico, Oneida, Denmark and Greenleaf.
To search Woman-Owned Business Enterprises in Wisconsin, visit https://wisdp.wi.gov/search.aspx, or to learn more about the process to become certified.