Jim MacLellan, director of trade development for the Port of Los Angeles, will receive the Stanley T. Olafson award at the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce’s World Trade Week kickoff breakfast May 4.

The award is presented each year to a member of the world trade community in Southern California who has contributed to the advancement of the industry beyond his or her job requirements, according to the chamber.


MacLellan has served in his role since 2007. Although he prepared to embark on a career in finance after studying economics in college, MacLellan said he ended up in the transportation sector “accidentally,” and found himself enjoying the field. “It permitted me to travel the world and work with a whole range of people,” he said. “It was never dull.”


In addition to his work at the port, MacLellan serves as the chair of the Pacific Chapter of the United States-Mexico Chamber of Commerce. He also gives lectures at Marymount University.


MacLellan’s primary responsibility is to increase trade through the port. To accomplish this objective, he conducts outreach to trade organizations, professional associations and chambers of commerce. He said one of his goals is to connect to more small businesses.


“Big corporations can take on the top trade attorneys and the top international accounting firms, but the small businesses are really the folks who need a helping hand,” MacLellan explained. “It’s kind of overwhelming for them, so we try to answer their fears by providing services that offset their challenges and apprehensions.”


MacLellan said he hosts seminars for these entrepreneurs at local and ethnic chambers of commerce as well as at municipal and county governments. He connects them to experts to help them meet their trade goals in an environment he described “like speed dating.”


“I want to [make] videos of our events and get them to the media so people can access them,” MacLellan said. “People say, ‘Nobody’s interested in business subjects on TV.’ I don’t agree. I think people are very interested, especially small businesses.”


According to MacLellan, the economy in Southern California is mostly made up of local entrepreneurs. “We have to rely on them,” he said. “Even micro-entrepreneurs. That’s a source of creativity and ingenuity for the next generation. How can we open the world to them rather than just the local market?”


MacLellan described international trade as one of the pillars of the region’s economy. “It provides millions of jobs, not directly, but indirectly,” MacLellan said. “We are in the key strategic location in the United States. . . . It is essential that we keep growing fair, bilateral and multilateral trade for us to keep the economy growing. Anything that might negatively affect trade and good relations with other countries, especially in the Pacific Rim, will [directly hurt] our bottom line.”