For public sector buying agencies in Ohio, finding qualified vendors to supply the vast spectrum of goods and services required by state and local governments can be challenging. Whether a state department requires a fleet of new vehicles, or a municipality is looking for someone to provide uniforms for city workers, all proposals submitted by potential vendors must be carefully scrutinized by purchasing professionals to ensure that buying agencies are receiving the expected value for taxpayers’ money.
In Ohio, vendors can submit bids on opportunities posted by both state and local governments. In this article, we’ll review how vendors can register as suppliers with the state of Ohio, as well as the cities of Cleveland, Cincinnati and Dayton.
Doing business with the state of Ohio
Vendors who would like to pursue contract opportunities with Ohio must first register their business with the state and provide information about their business. To begin the registration process, visit the official Ohio supplier portal here.
Once registered, vendors will have 24/7 access to real time information about bids and important documents including purchase orders, invoices and payment information. Beyond these benefits, the Ohio supplier portal provides cutting-edge tools for suppliers, including powerful analytics and fraud detection tools.[i]
Vendor certification programs in Ohio
Like many states, Ohio offers special certification programs for minority, women and economically disadvantaged person-owned businesses. The Business Certification and Compliance Unit is responsible for the Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) program. The program is designed to help vendors who qualify, get certified; monitor businesses compliance with the certification requirements; and maintains a database of certified businesses in the state. The program establishes a 15 percent procurement goal for Set-Asides for MBEs. The MBE program provides vendors with information on eligibility requirements and how to get certified.[ii]
The unit also helps certify Veteran-Friendly Business Enterprises (VBE), the program will grant preference or bonus points for VBEs who compete on various contracts. Any business which is Veteran-owned must complete an application to get certified with the state.[iii]
Doing business with the city of Cleveland
With a population of nearly 400,000, the city of Cleveland offers a wealth of business opportunities for suppliers. Vendors interested in bidding on contract opportunities with Cleveland are required to fill out the preregistration worksheet and submitting a W-9 form to the Division of Purchases and Supplies. The City of Cleveland has a list of general conditions a vendor must meet to be able to bid on contract opportunities. The city does have separate rules for purchases worth $1,000 to $50,000 and bids that are worth over $50,000, so make sure to learn what the requirements are based on the type of bid you are submitting a proposal to.[iv]
Doing business with the city of Cincinnati
The city of Cincinnati is the third largest city in the state of Ohio and is a great area for business to prosper as it is considered an economic hub. In Cincinnati, interested vendors should first register with the city’s Vendor Self-Service (VSS) system. To register, vendors must provide their signed and dated W-9 form and provide banking information to sign up for payment via electronic transfers.[v]
Cincinnati also offers a unique contractor pre-qualification program for any work that must be done on city-owned facilities. The program allows the city to procure services for maintenance and repair in a more efficient and quicker manner.[vi]
Doing business with the city of Dayton
Located in Western Ohio, Dayton also offers many bid opportunities for vendors across industry sectors. Vendors interested in bidding on opportunities posted by Dayton must first complete and submit the Vendor Application and W-9 form to be included on the city’s bidder’s list.[vii]
As in other cities, a certification program for women, minority and other economically disadvantaged business owners allows these businesses to compete more effectively for city contracts. Unlike other cities, Dayton’s Procurement Enhancement Program does not set contracting quotas, but rather, has set a goal to increase the number of MWBEs who wish to work with the city.[viii]
Using a bid service to find targeted opportunities and RFPs
It can be challenging for vendors to efficiently browse, identify and prioritize bids that match their service offer, especially across multiple districts. By becoming a member of an established bid service, business owners receive notifications about posted opportunities that perfectly match their service offer, every day. By having a bid service search through the many thousands of bid opportunities available in Ohio, and delivering the relevant results to them directly, vendors can spend more time crafting responses to the opportunities that they want to pursue – ultimately improving their chances of submitting a winning proposal.
[i] 2019. State of Ohio Procurement. Supplier Portal. Registering your Business in the Supplier Portal. 4 Dec. 2019
[ii] 2019. Ohio Department of Administrative Services. Business Certification: Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Program. 4 Dec. 2019
[iii] 2019. Ohio Department of Administrative Services. Business Certification: Veteran-Friendly Business Enterprise (VBE) Program. 4 Dec. 2019
[iv] 2019. City of Cleveland Ohio. Doing Business with the City. 9 Dec. 2019
[v] 2019. City of Cincinnati. Division of Purchasing. Vendor Registration. 4 Dec. 2019
[vi] 2019. City of Cincinnati. Division of Purchasing. Contractor Pre-Qualification for Work on City Facilities. 4 Dec. 2019
[vii] 2019. Dayton Ohio. Doing Business with the City of Dayton. 4. Dec. 2019
[viii] 2019. Dayton Ohio. Doing Business with the City of Dayton. Procurement Enhancement Program. 4. Dec. 2019