SAN PEDRO, Calif. — January 5, 2011 — The Los Angeles Harbor Commission has approved a Very Small Business Enterprise (VSBE) component to the Port of Los Angeles’ broader Small Business Enterprise Program (SBE), an Equal Opportunity Program that ensures at least 25 percent of the Port’s professional service and construction contracts are awarded to qualified small businesses.  

Under the new program, at least 5 percent of Port professional service and construction contracts will be awarded to very small businesses. A very small business is defined by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a business that averages less than $3.5 million in gross revenues, or a manufacturing company with fewer than 25 employees.

“This is yet another way to ensure that very small businesses have the opportunity to do professional service and contract work here at the Port of Los Angeles,” said Executive Director Geraldine Knatz, Ph.D. “Entrepreneurs are the backbone of our regional economy and we want to make sure to support them.”

“I am grateful to the Port for continuously looking for ways to get small and very small firms more involved in its programs,” said Behjat Zanjani, President of Integrated Engineering Management, a San Pedro company that qualifies as a very small business. “One of the main reasons we’re in business today is because of the opportunities provided by the Port of Los Angeles.”

The SBE program replaced the former Minority/Women/Other Business Enterprise (MWE/OBE) program that had been in place since 1983. Since the SBEP was implemented in February 2007, contracts with small-, women-, and minority-owned businesses at the Port have increased significantly.  

From May 2007 to May 2010, 36 percent of Port contracts were awarded to qualified small businesses. A small business is defined as independently owned and operated that is not dominant in its field and no larger than the designated U.S. Small Business Administration’s small business size standard for its industry. The Port aims to maintain its existing goal of at least 25 percent SBE/VSBE participation with all Port professional service and construction contracts -- 20 percent with small businesses and now 5 percent with very small businesses.

Prospective contractors may register for Port of Los Angeles, including City of Los Angeles, contract opportunities with the Los Angeles Business Virtual Network (LABAVN) at www.labavn.org. This free database also has an online notification system.

The Port of Los Angeles is America’s premier port and has a strong commitment to developing innovative strategic and sustainable operations that benefit the economy as well as the quality of life for the region and the nation it serves.  As the leading seaport in North America in terms of shipping container volume and cargo value, the Port generates 919,000 regional jobs and $39.1 billion in annual wages and tax revenues.  A proprietary department of the City of Los Angeles, the Port is self-supporting and does not receive taxpayer dollars. The Port of Los Angeles – A cleaner port.  A brighter future.