Saturday, May 18, 2024

2.3 Billion In Contracts Awarded Exclusively To MWBE For JFK Airport Renovation

MWBE Stands for Minority/Women-Owned Business Enterprise. It’s a certification issued by the state that gives developmental benefits to businesses primarily owned and operated by a woman or a person, at least 25 percent African American, Asian, Hispanic, or Native American. The stock must also be at least 51 percent minority-owned if the business is publicly traded.

Like many things, trying to entice MWBE contractors to participate in projects is commendable. However, granting an entire project to that section of the population should be considered suspect. It raises questions about whether or not experience, past performance, financial stability, and efficiency were considered or if all of the awarded contracts were strictly based on DEI.

I have had extensive experience working as a primary supplier to hundreds of contractors on thousands of construction projects. In many cases, the general contractors were unable to meet the required quota for MWBE sub-contractors. This was not due to lack of effort, but rather because there were not enough interested contractors to participate, and sometimes, the interested ones couldn’t meet the necessary criteria. Whenever a contractor failed to fulfill the quota of MWBE subcontractors, they were required to submit paperwork providing evidence that they had made a substantial effort to do so.

So, I’m skeptical that all $2.3 billion on a project of this size and type could be effectively filled using only MWBE contractors without sacrificing experience, efficiency, financial stability, or a past track record of success.

Of course, liberal governor Kathy Hochul and the rest of the woke cabal could only speak in defiant glowing terms about the project. Patting themselves on the back about the diversity aspect and ignoring the commonsense reality of what was taking place.

In her announcement, she said that a $2.3 billion tax-funded grant in redevelopment contracts for JFK International Airport has been awarded exclusively to minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBE).

“New York remains committed to providing travelers with a premier experience that includes world-class amenities, and record involvement by local minority- and women-owned businesses will ensure just that. This transformative project uplifts these businesses and deepens investments in the community while bolstering the state workforce.”

The Port Authority is aiming to achieve a 30 percent MWBE participation rate in all capital projects, which aligns with Governor Hochul’s ambitious utilization goals. While this may seem like a commendable effort, some critics argue that giving priority to contracts based on DEI targets risks excluding qualified companies that do not fall under these demographic groups. There are concerns that strictly emphasizing DEI could lead to overlooking the merit and experience of other firms that could potentially deliver equal or greater value to the redevelopment project.

A press release about the project said this:

“With today’s announcement, JFK surpasses the LaGuardia Airport redevelopment, which set the previous New York State record for MWBE participation in a public-private project with $2.2 billion in contracts awarded. As the $19 billion JFK project moves forward, additional contracts with MWBE firms will be awarded to meet with the Port Authority’s goal of 30 percent MWBE participation for the agency’s capital projects, consistent with Governor Hochul’s nation-leading goals for MWBE utilization in state projects.

The Port Authority is working closely with its private terminal developer partners the New Terminal One, Delta Air Lines and JFKIAT, JFK Millennium Partners, and American Airlines – to engage minority and women-owned businesses along with local businesses in every aspect of the redevelopment program. To date, 680 MWBEs have been awarded contracts at JFK, along with more than 200 businesses based in Queens.

To increase MWBE participation at the JFK Redevelopment Program, and across the agency, the Port Authority and its private terminal partners at JFK hosted a variety of capacity-building and technical training programs that prepared firms to be successful in navigating what can at times be complex airport-related procurements.

These programs include an academy for principals at architecture and engineering firms, contractor coaching programs that train firms to apply for contracts and construction mentoring programs that recruit, train and mentor MWBE firms to bid on large public construction projects, and project readiness bootcamps. The redevelopment team has also sponsored hundreds of seminars, webinars, and forums to help firms become MWBE certified, meet and network with prime contractors, and build the skill sets needed to be successful in the field.”

Assemblymember Alicia Hyndman also heaped praise on the project:

“Governor Hochul’s commitment to diversity and inclusion in public-private partnerships sets a new standard for New York State. The record-breaking $2.3 billion in contracts awarded at JFK Airport, with substantial participation from MWBE firms, underscores the importance of equitable opportunities in major infrastructure projects. As an Assemblywoman representing Queens, I’m proud to see local businesses thriving, with nearly $1 billion in contracts awarded to Queens-based firms. This achievement not only surpasses past milestones but sets a precedent for future developments, ensuring that MWBE participation continues to break records as we work towards the substantial completion of JFK’s redevelopment in 2028.”

In a press conference, Hyndman added:

“What we didn’t want to happen is to go back to the community and people look at us and say, ‘Well, what did you do? No one on that project looks like us. No one in that project represents us.’ We did not want to have those conversations. That’s why those tireless meetings that took place on Zoom, whether it was Microsoft, Webex, or whatever it was, weren’t working. Your bandwidth was low, and you had to turn off the camera or turn off the mic. As annoying as it was, we knew it was for us, by us, to make sure that this community that we represent looks like us.”

Interesting. Apparently, there are no worthy white contractors in Queens or the other boroughs of New York.

This project is a monument to racism and discrimination in New York.

Congratulations, New York, your track record of woke ignorance is still intact.