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Jamaican Information Service - Feb 13, 2006

Jamaican Entrepreneur Honored in Miami
George Yap - Leasa Industries

Jamaican national, Livingston 'George' Yap, owner of LEASA Industries, in Liberty City, North Miami, was one of ten persons recognised at a recent event to honour community and business leaders in Miami.

The ten were selected from various fields for their role in community development in areas such as, entrepreneurship, education, media, public service and community and social awareness.

The second annual Community and Business Leaders Appreciation Award ceremony was organized by the Black Heritage Advisory Board of Miami Dade County and Universal MazJac Enterprises, Incorporated, a national marketing agency.

Mr. Yap is known for his ongoing commitment to economic development in North Miami. He continues to receive numerous national and regional awards not only for building a successful family venture but also for assisting in the development of one of Miami's inner city communities - Liberty City.

LEASA Industries is the largest producer of bean and alfalfa sprouts and the largest manufacturer of tofu in Florida. Recent data from the Soyfood Industry and Market Report ranks the company among the top 20 in the United States earning an annual revenue of $5.7 million.

The wide range of almost 40 retail products bearing the name LEASA can be seen prominently displayed in the produce section of the leading supermarkets in the region. The products consist of a variety of fresh-cut and pre-packaged vegetable and fruits using technologically advanced equipment at the processing facility located in North Miami. LEASA have also expanded their supplies to other major cities throughout the USA.

Managements of both leading supermarkets have expressed ongoing strong business relationship with LEASA as the product line meets quality standards for growth at approximately 20 per cent annually in the respective stores.

LEASA uses hydroponics technology to three million pounds of bean sprouts and alfalfa sprouts. Almost 1.5 million pounds of tofu is also produced annually.
The Yap family migrated to South Florida in the mid-1970s, from Kingston, Jamaica. Already businesspersons, they decided to purchase a bankrupt bean sprout company in Liberty City, and named it LEASA Industries, the acronym represents the first initial of each family member's first name.

Overcoming several obstacles affecting company sales, and almost failing, the owners were determined to survive. With tenacity and resilience, LEASA Industries has surpassed difficult times and revived itself from being in the 'red', to become one of the largest growers of products, which are very much in demand in today's health-conscious world.

What has made LEASA Industries so special to economic and development officials in Miami Dade, and the community at large and so deserving of the numerous awards received is the owners' heartfelt commitment to helping the less fortunate in those neighboring communities.

The majority of LEASA's 70 employees are former welfare recipients, high school dropouts and those who were once in the penal system, all of whom Mr. Yap says he wants to "give a second chance."

Because of the success of companies like LEASA for almost 30 years, and the dedication and commitment from its owners to economic revitalization in the Poinciana Industrial Center, a Dade County Enterprise Zone, Dade County government leaders as well as the Beacon Council and Chamber of Commerce in the Miami area continue to attract business operators to locate and expand in the same manner as the Yaps with a taste for success and a heart for social responsibility.

Included in the long list of awards and accolades LEASA has received for outstanding accomplishments and achievements as entrepreneurs are: the United States Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency Award (1997) for national minority manufacturer; the 1999 Blue Chip Enterprise Initiative State Honoree; and the 1999 South Florida Business Journal Manufacturer of the Year.

LEASA Industries continue to be an ardent supporter of the Jamaican- Chinese community in South Florida.

The Yaps have continued to serve the community through various civic associations and Boards. Up to the time of her death in May last year, Mrs.Yap was president of the Chinese Cultural Foundation, a non-profit organization for the development of the Chinese immigrant community in the USA as well as their commitment to other international bodies, such as the Chinese Benevolent Society in Jamaica.

Mr. Yap continues to serve as a Board member to the Jamaica USA Chamber of Commerce in Florida since its inception in March 2004. A true philanthropist, he remains dedicated to the Jamaican community in South Florida through sponsorship and participation in social events, and has even extended his efforts to giving back to the broader South Florida community.

The awards illustrate the positive direction LEASA has taken towards maintaining and simultaneously enhancing the standards for production within the business community.