Meet the Port of Portland Team Supporting Small Businesses

The Port of Portland, in some ways, operates like a city – especially in the context of the Portland International Airport. Think about everything it takes to run a city: fire department, roads, police, engineers, shops and services. We oversee all of that and more here at the Port.

Like any city, the Port can’t operate without a thriving small business community. That’s why we work to offer certified small businesses in Oregon and Washington opportunities to bid for contracts, expand their operations and connect with mentors. It’s also why we made small business engagement a core part of the Port’s equity plan.

We have a great team of people at the Port who lead this work. Get to know these superstars who are passionate advocates for small businesses.

Kimberly Sutton

As the Small Business Development Program Manager, Kimberly develops policies and programs designed to increase the utilization of small businesses in Port contracting opportunities, and increase their capacity to perform successfully through targeted technical assistance programs.

“I am proud to lead a team of passionate Small Business Compliance Officers who monitor each and every contract the Port administers to ensure small business opportunities are maximized throughout the process,” Kimberly said.

What do you love most about your job?

The best part of my job is getting to know the small business owners on a personal level. Whenever I sit down to meet a new small business, I ask them one thing: “Why did you become a small business owner?” This question allows me to know the passions behind the brands and inspires me to do my best work in supporting their dreams.

What’s a local small business you love?

One of my favorite small businesses is Tamale Boy. I watched this restaurant grow from a food cart to two brick and mortar locations. Jaime Soltero, the owner, is one of the most business-savvy owners I have ever come across and he is a pleasure to work with. On top of that, the food they serve is top-notch and they have one of the most professional and knowledgeable catering teams I have ever had the pleasure of working with.

F.D. Hudson

As a Small Business Compliance Officer, Hudson administers the articles of our program requirements and monitors each contracting opportunity for compliance to the terms outlined in the contract between the Port’s Small Business Team and the prime contractor.

“My support to the Small Biz community primarily stems from setting Small Biz participation goals on all applicable projects; presenting upcoming contracting opportunities at community outreach events within the Portland-metro area; as well as attending pre-bids educating the local business community on how to do business with the Port,” shared Hudson.

What do you love most about your job?

While the pleasure of meeting new business owners every day is a blast, I truly enjoy watching the growth in these small businesses blossom from second/first-tier subs working under these huge Prime contractors, to being awarded at the Prime level a contract of their own. This is when I feel things go full cycle in the Small Biz process. It’s so neat to see a firm’s maturity over the years as they grow bigger and more successful.

What’s a local small business you love?

One of my favorite Small Businesses is Asa Construction. I had the pleasure of working alongside them on a contract where they went above and beyond, far exceeding their goals on the contract we worked on together. Heather and her team were professional, timely and full of energy.  

Nina Jones

As the Federal and Operations Small Business Compliance Officer, Nina has a focus on the Port’s federally funded and operations contracts. She also works as a part of our internal DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) Core Team to assist every department in meeting their DEI goals. 

“In these roles, I do my best to not only ensure compliance with federal rules and regulations, but to also ensure that what we are doing is for the benefit of the Small Business Community. I believe in being a foundation and support for all of our Port employees as well. This work can be tough if you try to do it alone, I want all of my fellow Port of Portlandians to know we are in this together,” said Nina.

What do you love most about your job?

What I love most about my job is watching individuals grow in capacity. This is both our internal and external stakeholders. Internally, it is wonderful to watch the light bulb go off and know that they now get it. I have seen this reflected in how our staff engage and contract with our Small Business Community. Externally, I love to watch a Small Business grow in capacity. It is so rewarding when we see a Prime Contractor take a chance on a new partnership and then are completely blown away with how wonderful and easy it was to work with a Small Business. To watch these connections happen on a continuous basis makes this work very rewarding.

What’s a local small business you love?

One of my favorite Small Businesses is 3D Infusion. The Principal Owner Vijay Deodhar is extremely hard working and always present. He is the prime example of the grit and determination it takes to be a small business. One of my other favorite Small Businesses is Alcantar and Associates, LLC. I have seen them grow from a Consulting/Construction Management firm to a General Contractor. In addition to Owner Marcela Alcantar being an advocate for her business, she is a powerful advocate for minority/indigenous contractors. I love that she brings her full culture to every meeting and event; in my opinion, that takes courage.

With many local businesses struggling right now, this team’s work is more important than ever. We’re grateful to have them leading small business engagement at the Port.

Small Business Program: By the Numbers

Small Business Contracts:

  • During Fiscal Year 19/20, 27% of Port contracts valued over $500k were awarded directly to a small business.
  • In total, 22% of our contract dollars were awarded to small businesses, a 29% increase from FY15.
  • 40% of the total number of contracts went to small businesses. That marks a 104% increase in 5 years.
  • Additionally, 40 subcontracts valued at $1.7M went to certified small businesses.

Mentor Protégé Program: The Mentor Protégé Program connects small businesses with mentors over a three-year period.

  • In 2020, we graduated 11 firms from the Mentor Protégé Program this year and recruited 15 new small businesses into the next cohort.
  • Our 2020 graduating class saw an increase in revenue (+157%) and bonding capacity (+289%) over their three years in the program, while also creating 58 new jobs.

Concessions at PDX:

  • We set a goal to have 12.9% of our retail and restaurant concessionaires at PDX as certified small businesses. In FY20, we exceeded that goal by achieving 26%.