Member Feature – Washington State Office of Minority & Women’s Business Enterprises

May 23, 2024
Group of diverse individuals standing on the steps of a building with large columns, smiling, and raising their hands in celebration. The group includes people of various ages and ethnicities.

OMWBE: Paving the Way for Diverse Business Success

Small businesses form the backbone of our economy. The Washington State Office of Minority & Women’s Business Enterprises (OMWBE) believes that a culture of inclusivity and diversity contributes to a thriving economy where everyone can compete on a level playing field. As their presence in our area continues to grow, understanding the services and support offered by OMWBE can unlock significant potential benefits and opportunities for businesses in the Greater Spokane Valley region. 

What is OMWBE?

OMWBE is a state agency dedicated to promoting equity and increasing participation in public contracts and procurement for minority and women-owned businesses. For most certifications, a business must demonstrate that it is at least 51% owned and controlled by minorities or women. OMWBE also offers certifications that are race and genderneutral. Certification helps companies gain visibility and better access to government and private sector contracts, providing opportunities for those looking to expand their networks and increase their competitive edge in the marketplace. 

Benefits of OMWBE Certification

Access to Public Contracts

A primary benefit of OMWBE certification is enhanced access to public contracts. All businesses have access to public contracts, but direct access comes through registering in Washington Electronic Business Solution (WEBS) and being notified of opportunities. State and local governments often set goals to allocate a certain percentage of contracting dollars to certified businesses. Federally funded projects use mandatory goals for the inclusion of certified businesses. This creates more opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses to bid on projects that might previously have been out of reach. State-certified businesses can also enroll in the Linked Deposit Program, which provides an interest rate reduction of up to 2% on qualifying loans. 

Increased Visibility

Certified businesses are listed in OMWBE’s directory, which is accessed by government agencies and prime contractors seeking to increase their spending with diverse businesses. State-certified businesses are automatically eligible to enroll in King County’s Small Contractor and Supplier (SCS) program. Small businesses also benefit from the Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC) small works roster, which connects them with over 700 public agencies in Washington. This increased visibility can lead to new partnerships, collaborations, and business opportunities in both the public and private sectors. 

Networking Opportunities

OMWBE frequently partners with other state agencies and community organizations to host workshops, training sessions, and networking events to connect certified businesses with government buyers and private contractors. These events are critical for building relationships, learning about new projects, and staying informed about changes in procurement practices. 

How Can OMWBE Certification Benefit Spokane Valley Businesses?

Local Economic Growth

OMWBE certification can help local businesses scale up their operations by increasing access to larger contracts and networks. This can contribute to more jobs and development within the Greater Spokane Valley community. Government contracts also help small businesses weather economic downturns, leading to greater stability in uncertain times.

Diverse Supply Chains

Encouraging diversity within supply chains enhances competition and promotes innovation by incorporating different perspectives and ideas. Certified businesses in the Greater Spokane Valley can contribute to and benefit from more diverse, resilient, and competitive supply chains. 

What’s Next

Public Works Small Business Enterprise (PWSBE) Certification

OMWBE recently launched PWSBE certification to promote small business participation in public works contracting. This certification makes it easier for small businesses to engage in public contracts without the financial burden of certification fees. OMWBE has waived ALL certification fees through June 30, 2025. For more information on PWSBE and to apply for free, visit 


OMWBE has waived ALL certification fees through June 30, 2025

The Big Picture

As the Greater Spokane Valley business community continues to grow and diversify, the services provided by OMWBE will become increasingly important. Certification can open doors to new opportunities that might have been otherwise inaccessible, fostering business growth and a more inclusive and equitable economic landscape. Engaging with OMWBE and its 250 business members in Eastern and Central Washington could be your first step towards leveraging the benefits that diversity in business practice offers. 


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