Small Business Development Program

David Neese
Small Business Development Program Director
Phone: 615.741.3681 / 615.253.1075

The Tennessee Department of Transportation Small Business Development Program's primary goal is to increase the number of minority and female businesses in the highway and bridge construction industry. We are available to provide quality technical assistance, resources, guidance, and any other information in regards to the Small Business Development Program. Please do not hesitate to call our office for further assistance.

The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) and Small Business Enterprise (SBE) programs are part of the Department's Small Business Development Program. More information is provided below.


7/3/23 - TDOT's Proposed Three-Year DBE goal of 9.66% is now available for review.
Please send any comments to prior to 8/1/23.

What is the TDOT DBE program?
The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program was developed by the Federal Highway Administration and is administered by the Tennessee Department of Transportation to encourage minority, female, and other disadvantaged firms to work in the highway/bridge industry. Both state and federal construction projects and monies are included in the program.

Who may qualify as a DBE?
There are several eligibility criteria for DBE certification. As these conditions are met, certification can be granted.

  • Your firm must be an existing “for-profit” business that is currently operational.
  • Your firm must be an independent business. If it is a subsidiary of a corporation, your firm must still operate in a self-sufficient manner.
  • Your firm must meet the federal definition of a small business concern.
  • Owners must meet the federal definition of “socially and economically disadvantaged.” Women and certain minorities are presumed to fit the definition.
  • Owners must possess the expertise to control the daily operations and management of the firm.
  • Owners must be able to show ownership of at least 51% of the firm through real and substantial investments of capital.
  • Owners’ net worth must not be over $2.047 million (excluding personal residence and stock/ownership in the potential DBE firm).

What happens once I am a DBE?
Once DBE certified, your firm is placed on a statewide list showing contractors you are certified and listing your work areas. You must be certified at the time the prime contractor submits a bid to TDOT.

DBE certification does not guarantee that you will get TDOT work; however, if you perform good work at competitive prices, you have an advantage on projects with DBE goals.

As a TDOT-certified DBE, you may be eligible to receive group and individualized training and technical assistance to increase your efficiency and profits. The Small Business Development Program headquartered in Nashville provides this at no cost to you.

Call the Small Business Development Program in Nashville at (615) 741-3681 or 1-888-370-3647 for further information.


TN Businesses
If your business is located within Tennessee and you decide you wish to apply for DBE certification, please download and complete the following application packet. Once completed, mail the application and all attachments to the agency listed on the TNUCP Partner List that serves the area where your firm has its principal place of business.

Out-of-State Businesses
Due to new DBE Rule changes effective 5/9/24, an application for interstate certification is no longer necessary. Please contact for more information.

DBE Application Tripwires
Download this document to help avoid common errors and oversights when completing your application

TDOT Construction Division Bid Letting webpage
Interested Parties List Instructions and Form

All contractors must be prequalified before they may work on a TDOT contract. This is separate from DBE certification. Construction firms and businesses other than consulting firms should complete the TDOT Prequalification Form for Contractors on the Contractor Prequalification website while consultants should complete the form found on the Consultant Information page.

Small Business Enterprise Program

Currently under review

DBE Goals and Goal Setting Information

DBE Goals (Word)
DBE Goal Setting Tutorial (Power Point w/audio) (60.1 MB)
Sample Worksheets for Goal Setting Power Point  (Word)

DBE Guidelines and Construction Office Forms

Special Provision 1247 (PDF)
Commercially Useful Function (CUF) Checklist  (Word)