The Port of Los Angeles Small Business Enterprise (SBE) Program awarded $97.6 million in contracts to small businesses during the 2012/2013 fiscal year of the $405.9 million that was awarded in construction and professional service contracts by the Port during the period.
“Small businesses represent an important and valuable resource in our community,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino, whose 15th District includes the Port. “The Port’s robust SBE program shows just how much small businesses can contribute when given the chance, and what it can mean in terms of overall economic benefits to the entire City of Los Angeles.”
The Port's SBE Program was created in 2007 to provide additional opportunities for small businesses to participate in professional service and construction contracts. Of the $1.3 billion in total contracts awarded by the Port over the last six fiscal years, $431.5 million, or 32% of the total dollars, has gone to small business enterprises.
Of the $97.6 million awarded in FY 2012/13, $30.8 million went to minority-owned small businesses, and $21.6 million to those owned by women. While other Los Angeles City departments mandate that a contract awardee show a "good faith effort" to include small, minority or women-owned businesses, the Port makes it a requirement that contract awardees include SBE participation.
“What is foundational and groundbreaking about the Port’s SBE program is that it's not just limited to subcontracting opportunities,” said Wanda Martinez, chief executive officer of D R Consultants & Designers, Inc., a SBE prime contractor with the Port. “The Port welcomes small business-led teams to pursue contracts, which is a long-awaited milestone that will improve our local economy and create jobs.”
Annually, the Port sets an overall goal of 25% SBE participation, of which 5% is designated for Very Small Business Enterprises (VSBEs), a stipulation added in 2010. VSBEs are firms with three-year average gross revenues of less than $3.5 million. The Port establishes SBE/VSBE requirements for each contract that it awards, except in the case of some federally funded contracts that do not allow mandatory SBE requirements.
"The Port's SBE program has enabled boutique information technology organizations like ours to competitively bid as prime vendors, which in turn has allowed us to partner with other local minority businesses to successfully deliver projects for the Port," said Sanjeev Sehgal, vice president of operations at Trinus Corporation. "The Port's SBE program has opened doors for small businesses like ours and enabled us to grow."
The Port further expanded its SBE program to accept Disabled-Veteran Business Enterprise (DVBE) certifications in 2011, awarding two contracts to DVBEs that year in the amount of $154,000. In FY 2012/13, the Port awarded five contracts for a total of $7,704,267 to DVBEs, and hopes to continue growing the program in the coming years.