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Gore Reveals Plan to Aid L.A.-Area Small Businesses

April 03, 1998|LEE ROMNEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Vice President Al Gore on Thursday announced a program to increase government contracting opportunities for small businesses in Los Angeles' federal empowerment zone.

The program will give small businesses in the zone--which includes Pacoima and parts of East and South-Central Los Angeles--a special opportunity to bid on about $8 billion in federal contracts by 2000, a Gore spokeswoman said.

The figure would increase from 20% to 23% the portion of federal contracts going to small business. It augments existing efforts--such as the Small Business Administration's 8(a) program--to set aside government contracts for disadvantaged businesses, most of them minority-owned.

To qualify for the initiative, called the HUB Zone Empowerment Contracting Program, a business must be small, located in the empowerment zone or other zones that meet certain poverty criteria, and draw 35% of its work force from the zone.

Gore also announced a series of White House discussions with top chief executives to encourage private-sector investment in distressed communities. Los Angeles basketball star Magic Johnson will help lead the discussions, along with BankBoston Chairman Charles Gifford.

Mayor Richard Riordan's spokeswoman, Noelia Rodriguez, said the program will enhance minority business opportunities already available locally through Riordan's Minority Business Opportunity Committee.

"This is great news in elevating the importance of minority contracting opportunities to the federal level," Rodriguez said.

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