Port of Houston Authority Delivers Small Business Successes

Reception will celebrate program's successful second year

Houston, Texas, UNITED STATES

HOUSTON, June 3, 2004 (PRIMEZONE) -- The Port of Houston Authority (PHA) will celebrate the second anniversary of the Small Business Development Program (SBDP) with a reception beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 8 at The Grand Room Downtown, located at 1521 Austin Street. The program will feature a special salute to Forde Construction Co., Inc., the first small business to graduate from the SBDP, as well as a graduation ceremony for the first class of vendors to complete Port University. More than 500 invited guests, including representatives of the City of Houston, METRO, Houston Minority Business Council and the Women's Business Enterprise Alliance as well as several other political, business and civic leaders, are expected to attend.

The SBDP is designed to help PHA contractors make good faith efforts to include small business participation in eligible contracts.

                           Year-end 2003 Results

     -    PHA spent nearly $10.7 million (28 percent) of its contract
          dollars with small businesses, including $1.1 million in
          second-tier sub-contracts.

     -    Small businesses received $9.6 million (25 percent) of all
          formal and informal purchase orders issued by PHA during the
          year. (Note: a formal purchase order is over $25,000; an
          informal purchase order is under $25,000.) Out of a total of
          125 formal purchase orders, 37 (30 percent) were issued to
          small business prime contractors. Out of 1,727 informal
          purchase orders, 564 (31 percent) were issued to small

     -    More than 400 new vendors became registered participants in
          the SBDP.

                      First Quarter 2004 Results

     -    PHA spent nearly $1.4 million (29 percent) of its contract
          dollars with small businesses, including $547,790 in
          second-tier sub-contracts.

     -    Small businesses received $845,005 (18 percent) of all
          formal and informal purchase orders issued by PHA during the
          quarter. Out of a total of 24 formal purchase orders, five
          (13 percent) were issued to small business prime
          contractors. Out of 396 informal purchase orders, 122 (27
          percent) were issued to small businesses.

     -    107 new vendors became registered participants in the SBDP,
          bringing the total to 696. Approval remains pending for
          another 245 vendors.

"The Port of Houston Authority is a world-class organization," said PHA Chairman Jim Edmonds. "We could never achieve the global strength and status as the sixth largest port in the world without a strong regional economy fueled by local businesses. Our small business owners and employees are vital links in the port's supply chain."

"Small businesses are the leading employers in the Houston area and provide nearly half of all jobs in Texas," stated PHA Vice Chairman Kase Lawal, who also serves as chairman of the PHA's Small Business Task Force. "The port authority recognizes that a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit is vital for a strong economy and leadership in global trade and commerce."

According to a study by Martin and Associates, the consulting firm in Lancaster, Pennsylvania that has conducted economic impact studies for 120 ports in the U.S. and Canada, nearly $11 billion in revenue is generated annually by all businesses providing direct services at PHA. "Small businesses that are eligible for the port authority's Small Business Development Program enjoy a significant share of that revenue," Lawal said. "We maintain aggressive goals to promote small business participation on port contracts for products and professional services."

Most PHA contracts valued at more than $25,000 are considered SBDP eligible. The exceptions include contracts for sole-source items, federally funded contracts, contracts with other governmental entities and certain contracts that are otherwise prohibited by applicable law from inclusion in the SBDP. Professional service contracts are SBDP eligible contracts to the extent permitted by law and/or PHA commission policies.

The SBDP also provides small business technical assistance and outreach by encouraging the formation of joint ventures, alliances and mentoring relationships among small and large businesses and individuals; organizing training workshops and conferences led by advisors with special expertise in the requirements for successfully completing small business bids and proposals at the port; participating in community-based events for small, minority- and women-owned businesses; using targeted media to advertise notifications of bid and proposal opportunities at the port; requiring all prospective port contractors to submit written assurances of meeting small business participation goals; and facilitating ways to ease the costs associated with obtaining insurance and surety bonds needed to qualify for contract bids.

As a race- and gender-neutral program, the SBDP is open to all certified small businesses located in greater Houston and the surrounding areas including Harris, Galveston, Fort Bend, Montgomery, Waller, Liberty, Chambers and Brazoria counties. An individual small business owner's personal net worth must not exceed $750,000 (excluding the business and homestead). Eligible small businesses must complete and submit an application and vendor information form. The application must be accompanied by a copy of the firm's small business certification. A company can be certified as a small business by the city of Houston, Houston Minority Business Council, METRO, U.S. Small Business Administration 8(a) and the Women's Business Enterprise Alliance. Upon PHA staff review and approval of a company's application and small business certification, a company becomes eligible to participate in the program.

The SBDP also hosts monthly networking forums called "Business Opportunities at the Port." During the first quarter of 2004, approximately 215 vendors attended the forums. The upcoming forums are scheduled for the first Wednesdays of each month from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. in the lunch room of the PHA Executive Office Building, located at 111 East Loop North (exit 29 off Loop 610 near the Houston Ship Channel Bridge). Various PHA staff members will be available at the forums to answer questions about current proposals and refreshments will be served.

The Port of Houston Authority owns and operates the public facilities located along the Port of Houston, the 25-mile long complex of diversified public and private facilities designed for handling general cargo, containers, grain and other dry bulk materials, project and heavy lift cargo, and other types of cargo. Each year, more than 6,600 vessels call at the port, which ranks first in the U.S. in foreign waterborne tonnage, second in overall total tonnage, and sixth largest in the world. The Port Authority plays a vital role in ensuring navigational safety along the Houston Ship Channel, which has been instrumental in Houston's development as a center of international trade. The Barbours Cut Container Terminal and Central Maintenance Facility are the first of any U.S. port facilities to develop and implement an innovative Environmental Management System that meets the rigorous standards of ISO 14001. Additionally, the port is an approved delivery point for Coffee "C" futures contracts traded on the New York Board of Trade's Coffee, Sugar & Cocoa Exchange. For more information, please visit www.portofhouston.com


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