MBE, DBE, SBE, and SDB Teaming: Unlocking Opportunities


In the dynamic landscape of civil engineering, collaboration and strategic partnerships play a pivotal role in achieving project success. Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs), Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs), Small Business Enterprises (SBEs), and Small Disadvantaged Businesses (SDBs) are essential components of this collaborative ecosystem. In this blog, we delve into the significance of teaming arrangements involving these diverse entities, specifically within the northeastern region of the United States.

Understanding the Acronyms

Before we explore the intricacies of teaming, let’s decode the acronyms:

  1. MBE:
    • MBEs are for-profit enterprises owned, operated, and controlled by minority group members.
    • Minority group members include African Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Native Americans, and Asian-Pacific Americans.
    • To qualify as an MBE, the business must be at least 51% owned by minority individuals, and management and daily operations must be controlled by them.
  2. DBE:
    • DBEs refer to businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
    • These individuals may include minorities, disabled persons, and residents of economically depressed areas.
    • DBE certification opens doors to government contracts and infrastructure projects.
  3. SBE:
    • SBEs are independently owned and operated small businesses.
    • They are not dominant players in their field of operation and meet size standards defined by the Small Business Administration (SBA).
    • SBEs actively participate in public procurement opportunities.
  4. SDB:
    • SDBs are small businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
    • The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) defines eligibility criteria for SDB certification.
    • These businesses gain access to federal contracts and subcontracting opportunities.

Teaming Opportunities in the Northeastern Region

The northeastern region of the United States presents a unique landscape for civil engineering projects, characterized by dense urban environments, aging infrastructure, and diverse communities. Within this dynamic setting, opportunities for collaboration among MBEs, DBEs, SBEs, and SDBs are abundant and vital for driving innovation and progress.

  1. 1. Regional Challenges, Local Solutions: In the Northeast, infrastructure needs often vary widely from city to city and state to state. Teaming with local MBEs, DBEs, SBEs, and SDBs allows firms to tailor solutions to the specific challenges and regulatory environments of each locality. Whether it’s upgrading transportation systems in bustling metropolises like New York City or revitalizing water infrastructure in smaller communities across New England, local partnerships are key to success.
  2. 2. Government Procurement Opportunities: The northeastern region is home to numerous government agencies at the federal, state, and municipal levels, all which regularly seek contractors for infrastructure projects. Teaming with certified MBEs., DBEs, SBEs, and SDBs not only enhances a firm’s competitiveness for these contracts, but also helps meet diversity and inclusion requirements mandated by many government entities. This collaborative approach not only benefits the firms involved, but also contributes to the socioeconomic development of the region.
  3. 3. Innovation and Technology Hub: With its concentration of world-class universities, research institutions, and tech companies, the Northeast fosters an environment ripe for innovation in civil engineering. Teaming with MBEs, DEBs, SBEs, and SDBs specializing in cutting-edge technologies and sustainable practices can give firms a competitive edge in implementing innovative solutions for infrastructure challenges. Whether it’s incorporating renewable energy sources into transportation projects or utilizing advanced materials for resilient infrastructure, collaboration within the region drives progress and sets new industry standards.
  4. 4. Community Engagement and Stakeholder Collaboration: Community engagement is paramount in civil engineering projects, particularly in densely populated urban areas of the Northeast. Teaming with local MBEs, DBEs, SBEs, and SDBs not only brings diverse perspectives to the table, but also fosters trust and collaboration with community stakeholders. From conducting outreach and public hearings to addressing environmental justice concerns, partnerships with community-based businesses enhance project outcomes and ensure that infrastructure development meets the needs of all residents.

Teaming Strategies in the Northeast

1. Leveraging Diversity: MBE and DBE Teaming

  • Strength in Numbers: MBEs and DBEs often collaborate to form joint ventures or strategic alliances. By combining their expertise, they enhance their competitiveness in bidding for large-scale infrastructure projects.
  • Certification Synergy: Teaming with certified MBEs and DBEs allows prime contractors to fulfill diversity requirements set by government agencies. It also promotes economic inclusion and fosters community development.

2. SBE and SDB Collaboration

  • Local Advantage: SBEs, deeply rooted in the local community, bring valuable insights and connections. Partnering with SBEs ensures a nuanced understanding of regional challenges and opportunities.
  • SDBs in Federal Contracts: SDBs gain preferential treatment in federal contracting. Collaborating with SDBs strengthens a firm’s position in securing government projects.

3. Cross-Certification Participation

  • Cross-Certification: Firms can hold multiple certifications simultaneously. For instance, an MBE can also be a DBE or an SDB. Cross-certification expands business prospects.

MFS Cast Studies

NYCDPR Riverside Park Dinosaur Playground Reconstruction (teaming with Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects & Planners PLLC)

NCDPW Cedarhurst Pump Station (teaming with H2M Architects & Engineers)

NYC DEP GI-H Green Infrastructure at NYCHA Sites (teaming with Dewberry)


Teaming arrangements that embrace diversity and foster inclusion are essential for a vibrant civil engineering landscape. As the northeastern region continues to evolve, MBEs, DBEs, SBEs, and SDBs will play a crucial role in shaping its infrastructure and driving progress.

MFS Engineers & Surveyors, a multi-discipline MBE/DBE/SBE/SDB certified civil engineering firm. Our commitment to delivering solutions across commercial, private, industrial, and government projects underscores the power of collaboration.

Remember, in the world of civil engineering, teamwork isn’t just a concept; it’s the foundation of progress. Give us a call today!