The new Exxon plant is on track for the start of work in September according to the guest speaker at Del Mar College's B.I.G. Event at the Staples Business Center Wednesday.

More than 150 local business people attended the event, which is designed to help small business network for contacts.

The guest speaker was the manager of the new Exxon project in Portland, John Mabry. He said the event helps his company continue a program to register local business to compete as sub-contractors at the Exxon project.

"This is a small business forum, so we hope to get the word out. We've extended the deadline for application for the local business initiative through the end of the year," Mabry said.

Mabry said more than 400 businesses have already applied to do business with the company, and they're looking for more.

Mabry also said the project is on track.

"We're starting the early front end engineering with the sub contractors," Mabry said. "Some has started now. Just in terms of site clearing and early site prep. Some temporary facilities and underground work. We really can't start bulk construction or erection of steel until after we get the permits, and that's another year, year and a half away."

Mabry said the dirtwork could begin this September and construction should be at its peak in 2019.

Officials said up to 6,000 will be working on construction and they expect up to 600 permanent jobs when the project is complete.

Many business people attending the Del Mar College event said they plan to seek clearance to seek work on the Exxon project.