By Brian J. Stiger, Director of the County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer and Business Affairs.
One constant in today’s ever-changing world is the power of small business owners. Entrepreneurs are the job creators and innovators in this 21st century economy. Without small business owners, Los Angeles County simply could not function.
It takes big moves and an even bigger budget – approximately $30 billion for the County to deliver services to its 10 million-plus residents. In order to operate effectively, Los Angeles County needs to buy goods and services from the business community by issuing contracts (solicitations/bids). County departments buy just about everything under the sun, including vehicles, consultant services, food, information technology services, equipment rentals, and much more.
In 2016, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors introduced the small business utilization plan to get more contracting dollars in the hands of small business owners. Specifically, the goal is to increase the percentage of contracts awarded to certified local small businesses to 25 percent and disabled veteran-owned businesses to 3 percent by 2020.
I’m pleased to say we’re on our way towards reaching that goal thanks to buy-in from small businesses, who are seizing this billion-dollar opportunity, and County departments who are buying from small businesses in greater numbers. Several departments were recognized this year for going above and beyond to make a difference in the lives and livelihoods of business owners.
In Fiscal Year 2016-17, more than $338 million in awards went to certified Local Small Business Enterprises (LSBEs), Disabled Veteran Business Enterprises (DVBEs), and Social Enterprises (SEs). The County is committed to increasing that amount in the years to come and we know our business owners want more, too.
We appreciate hearing from small business owners who report that getting paid in 15 days had made a huge impact. They take advantage of our trademark Contracting Connections events to meet buyers face to face. Many small business owners realize that many County contracts are no longer out of reach and they now become successful contractors.
It’s truly been revolutionary to see the positive change that can happen when elected officials, government departments and agencies, and the public work together.
In the New Year, I encourage jurisdictions large and small to join us in procuring more from small businesses. You have the power to make a positive impact in someone’s life.
Brian J. Stiger is Director of the County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer and Business Affairs. Visit dcba.lacounty.gov or call (323) 881-3964 to learn more about Los Angeles County’s contracting goal.