In 2016, Iowa had an estimated 86,300 women-owned firms, according to a report released earlier this year by American Open Express.

Of those women-owned businesses, only a handful are Certified Targeted Small Businesses (TSB). Earlier this year, however, a group of stakeholders from a various state agencies and departments devoted a week to participating in a Lean event focused on growing the number of Iowa’s Certified TSB’s by streamlining and enhancing Iowa’s TSB certification process.

For those not aware, Targeted Small Businesses (TSB)s are those that are owned, operated, and actively managed by women, minority group members, persons with disabilities or service-disabled veterans. The state of Iowa offers a certification program for TSBs so they can access state procurement opportunities 48 hours in advance of other vendors, become listed on an online TSB vendor directory and sell goods and services to state agencies outside of the competitive bidding process for goods and services under $10,000. To become certified as a TSB, the TSB must also be located in the state of Iowa, be operated for a profit and have an average gross income of less than $4 million in the preceding three fiscal years.

Previously the certification process was managed by the Department of Inspections and Appeals. As a result of the robust discussions throughout the week-long Lean event and the application of Lean methodology to the certification process, the participants ended the week in agreement that the management of the TSB certification should transition to the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) on behalf of the Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA).

With IEDA’s focus on supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses, the TSB Certification program to IEDA falls in line with IEDA’s mission to “strengthen economic and community vitality by building partnerships and leveraging resources to make Iowa the choice for people and business.”

After the decision was made to transition the program, the group planned a careful transition that became official on September 1st. All current TSBs were notified of the change, in addition to state-wide TSB partners, state of Iowa purchasing agents, and county and city business associations. IEDA staff have also attended various events and conferences to talk with potential TSBs about applying for certification and update existing TSBs on the transition of the program.

In addition to the program changing hands, applicants will notice the TSB application and required documentation list has been revised, and certified TSBs will receive a digital “badge” that they can use on their website or marketing collateral to promote their Targeted Small Business certification status. Now that the transition is in place, the group of stakeholders is shifting their attention to building an online application process as well. So stay tuned for more information and if you have any questions about applying for TSB certification, please contact Jill Lippincott, TSB Project Manager at [email protected].

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