An Oxnard software company dove into a $29 million contract with the U.S. Navy to provide technical support services round-the-clock to the Port Hueneme Base in 2008, the company announced March 11.

Visual Concepts hopes to show the Navy and other large contractors that Ventura County is a growing technology mecca, said Visual Concepts CEO Priscilla Rouse Becker, a local resident.

“We want there to be no doubt that there is no better place to host these applications than in Ventura County,” she said.

The company aims to make the base an industry leader in information technology, she added.

“Achieving this goal will ensure the success of the organization over the long haul as well as increase the amount of high-tech jobs available in the county,” Rouse Becker said.

The deal is good news for other local small businesses hoping to get government contracts, said Bill Buratto, president and CEO of the Ventura County Economic Development Association.

“Anything like this is a very good positive step in terms of the small business sector interacting with naval base Ventura County,” Buratto said. “And we do expect that there will be other opportunities.”

The multi-million dollar deal should boost the local economy and help stimulate the tech sector, Buratto added.

The fact a woman-owned business secured a large government contract is encouraging, he said.

“For me that’s very exciting, because it says that there are opportunities out there for small, women-owned and minority-owned businesses,” he said.

Port Hueneme Mayor Pro Tem Jon Sharkey said the deal shows progress.

“I think it’s instructive, particularly for folks who are younger, both men and women, to realize that while everyone assumes that women can compete there was a time not too long ago when this would have been unheard of,” Sharkey said. “I’m glad business owners can win a contract based on their merits and not be excluded because of gender or race.”

By Port Hueneme standards, the $29 million deal between Visual Concepts and the Navy is significant, Sharkey said.

“To put it in perspective, our city budget is just over $30 million. But as far as the Pentagon goes, this might be lunch money for them,” he added. “For a local company to land a contract of that size is certainly a good thing, and our hats are certainly off to them.”

Visual Concepts, founded in 1994 and located at 1901 Holser Walk No. 310, was the only company contracted to serve the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Information Technology Center. Until this year, the Navy had contracts with several different software companies that provided I.T. services, according to Rouse Becker.

“By sourcing these services to Visual Concepts, the government will have an improved, streamlined framework to achieve better service,” she said in a release.

The $29 million contract, which began Jan. 1, may be used up in 2008 or spread out over a period of five years, at Visual Concept’s prerogative, said Rachel Moreno, spokeswoman for the company.

The Oxnard software firm will engineer software and monitor the current systems at the Seabee base, Moreno said. They will also provide database and administrative support for more than 50 computer programs that support 30,000 people who live on naval bases worldwide, according to the company.

Additionally, Visual Concepts will help provide a geographic picture of all naval facilities around the world and will track military assets and resources, Moreno said.

Visual Concepts has 17 full-time employees working on the Port Hueneme I.T. project, but it has also subcontracted some of the work to tech companies Northrop Grumman, which has a Camarillo office, and LJT & Associates Inc.

“With our proposed innovative ideas and strong partnerships with industry-leading hosting organizations, our team with the government is solid,” Rouse Becker said. “We are already working together to accomplish some sophisticated process improvement techniques to ensure we are always traveling the best possible path in support of the organizations mission.”

With an annual volume of business in excess of $10 billion, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command manages design, construction, real estate and public works projects at Navy shore facilities worldwide, according to a release.

“We look forward to working with the government to build a solid foundation to face their challenges in this area,” Rouse Becker said. “Our strong team, coupled with a firm commitment to achieve the overall mission, will allow us to implement processes resulting in decreased costs and a significant increase in efficiency.”