PHOENIX, Ariz. -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District hosted its annual Business Opportunities Open House March 22 at GateWay Community College.

More than 150 business representatives attended, seeking opportunities to do work for the Corps. One third of them had never worked for the federal government.

"We're giving training classes on contracting, how to do that appropriately, how to submit bids that might be competitive, and we also brought in the Small Business Administration to talk about how you become an 8(a) [minority and other disadvantaged businesses] and make yourself more competitive in doing federal government contracts," said Col. Kirk Gibbs, Los Angeles District commander. "What we get out of these is improved relationships with our contracting partners and people that we work with so closely on our construction projects. We start building those relationships at this event."

Deputy District Engineer David Van Dorpe told attendees the outlook for the Los Angeles District looks tremendous. He briefed a forecast of potential projects that include construction work for the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as projects for the Department of Homeland Security, over the next several years.

"We also have a very strong military and civil works program, so our future is very bright," Van Dorpe said. "We have a full range of contract opportunities, from small businesses to projects that are well over a $100 million each."

The open house allowed business representatives to introduce their capabilities to more than two dozen Corps staffers and to learn of potential work along the Corps' business lines.

The Los Angeles District is responsible for planning, engineering, construction, asset management, regulatory, emergency management and environmental services for three Army and eight Air Force installations, interagency and international customers, and the nation's civil water resources infrastructure in the Southwest.

The District awarded more than 1,000 contracts valued at more than $500,000 in fiscal year 2017, and projects to award more than $900,000 in contracts this fiscal year. A fair proportion of the total will be placed with small business enterprises.