Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program

​​The DBE program started with Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982, which set a national goal of placing at least 10 percent of federal highway and transit funds with persons who qualify as disadvantaged small business operators. A subsequent act in 1987 included women.​

WisDOT invests $600-700 million annually in federal and state dollars for highway, airport and transit projects. These funds translate into millions of dollars in transportation-related contracts and project work for DBE firms.

Program goal

To increase participation of firms owned by disadvantaged individuals in all federal aid and state transportation facility contracts.

Related information

Wisconsin and Out of State DBE Certification Entities

Annual DBE Workshop and​ Networking Summit–including the Secretary's Golden Shovel Awards

DBE Golden Shovel awards

Initiated in 1985, one year following the inception of Wisconsin's Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program, the Secretary's Golden Shovel Awar​ds was spearheaded by then-DBE Program Director David Manning. 

The awards are presented during the Annual DBE Workshop & Networking Summit, a two-day event that features professional development workshops, presentations from WisDOT and FHWA leadership, municipal and industry leaders, and networking opportunities for DBE consultants, contractors​ and laborers.​

WisDOT has played an integral role in promoting the inclusion of people of color, women, and small businesses in its contracting practices not only through the annual workshop but also through stakeholder groups such as the Transportation Advisory Committee (TRANS-AC), the Transportation Consultant Advisory Committee (TRANS-CAC), and the DBE Stakeholder Advisory Committee of Southeast Wisconsin. Send requests for more information on Stakeholder Committees to DBE_Alert@dot.wi.gov​