Particular focus on local businesses, MWBE’ s
BY BENJAMIN FANG
With both LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy airports undergoing multi-billion dollar renovations, opportunities for local firms and contractors are booming.
At the Queens Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business Expo at Citi Field on May 16, chamber president Thomas Grech called the projects “transformative, monumental and incredible.”
“To make an omelette, you have to break some eggs,” he said. “But what an omelette it’s going to be.”
At the expo, a panel of experts who are currently working on the projects provided updates on the status of both airports and the job opportunities they will provide.
George Guillaume, deputy program director at Delta Air Lines, said the projects are putting New York “back on the world stage where we belong.”
“These projects give New York the facilities they deserve, bringing back the grandeur of flying,” he said. “These projects will make traveling more efficient and make our passengers feel a sense of home when they’re waiting at our facilities.”
LaGuardia Airport is in the midst of an $8 billion transformation, the first significant redevelopment project there in two decades.
The $4 billion Terminal B project is a public-private partnership between the Port Authority and the private entity LaGuardia Gateway Partners. The project includes a new 35-gate terminal, a central hall, parking garage, new roadways and infrastructure.
According to Tracy Sandford, senior director of Communications with LaGuardia Gateway Partners, Terminal B was first built in 1964 to accommodate 8 million people per year. Today, over 15 million people fly through the terminal.
“We’ve seen record passenger numbers,” she said. “And we are rebuilding while keeping the airport operational.”
When the new Terminal B eastern concourse opened late last year, the Port Authority announced that its concession partners hired 374 employees. About 55 percent of them were from Queens.
Sandford added that the second phase of the project, which includes the new “headhouse” and western concourse, will be completed by 2020.
“Things are moving fast,” she said.
Delta Air Lines has been tasked with developing, operating and maintaining a new $4 billion Terminal C, which broke ground in August 2017.
Suzette Bather-Taylor, senior program director of Strategic Capital Initiatives with the Port Authority, said the redevelopments are focusing on not just minority and women-owned business enterprise (MWBE) participation, but local hiring as well.
So far, the MWBE participation for the LaGuardia project has reached over $1.2 billion across 890 contracts. The local participation is above $390 million, Bather-Taylor said.
JFK Airport, meanwhile, is undergoing a $13 billion program, with $1 billion in seed money from the Port Authority and $12 billion in private funding. The redevelopment would create a new Terminal One and JetBlue’s Terminal 6.
Officials expect the project to produce 9,600 direct jobs and more than 15,000 total jobs.
Bathers-Taylor said the Port Authority is still negotiating lease agreements with its private partners. Construction is expected to begin by 2020, with an anticipated completion date in 2025.
Quentin Brathwaite, senior vice president at McKissack & McKissack, which is leading strategic engagement for the New Terminal One team, said they are already building partnerships and building capacity.
“We’re focused on being in the community and meeting folks,” he said.
Part of that engagement is the JFK Redevelopment Community Advisory Council, co-chaired by Congressman Gregory Meeks and Borough President Melinda Katz. The council includes local elected officials, community boards, local clergy, civic and business organizations.
Bathers-Taylor said the group is tasked with identifying what’s most meaningful to the community and how to communicate those opportunities.
“The advisory council creates a structured framework for participation,” Brathwaite said. “It allows us to focus on the resources in the most efficient way.”
David Garten, senior vice president of infrastructure investment and emerging sub-markets at RXR Realty, added that jobs training, working with organized labor, entrepreneur programs, business training, and youth programs are all possible benefits generated from the council.
“At the end of the day, we don’t have a monopoly on good ideas,” he said, “and we don’t know these communities as well as members of this council.”
The JFK redevelopment team also established a community office in Jamaica to keep local businesses informed. The office will help the project meet its 30 percent participation goal, which is applied for all procurement categories.
“Opportunities are going from the entire life cycle of the project,” Bathers-Taylor said, including construction, maintenance, operations and concessions. “With that foundation, there is work for you.”