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Queens Chronicle

PA unveils ‘historic’ JFK jobs initiative

MWBE contracts, second-chance hiring commitments in $13B rebuild

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Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2019 10:30 am

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on Tuesday officially memorialized initiatives targeting job opportunities, business opportunities, and training and education for Queens and the communities surrounding John F. Kennedy International Airport, all interwoven into the five-year $13 billion rebuilding plan.

PA Executive Director Rick Cotton made the announcement in Jamaica at the JFK Redevelopment Community Information Center, surrounded by elected officials and community and business leaders.

“We want to make sure that this project advances on the ground in lockstep with benefits for the community,” Cotton said.

Gov. Cuomo had previously committed to a 30 percent goal for woman- and minority-owned business enterprises. The initiatives announced Tuesday include a job recruiting program to match job seekers in the local community with jobs in construction and airport operations.

It also will have a second chance employment initiative targeted on providing jobs to formerly incarcerated individuals and others with past involvement in the criminal justice system.

Cotton said the program will be administered in cooperation with community groups such as The Fortune Society, The Thomas White Jr. Foundation, 100 Suits for 100 Men, Exodus Transitional Community and Life Camp, which have experience training and placing the formerly incarcerated.

A science and technology education program for 300 local students grades 1 through 12 in Queens will involve a partnership with York College.

Under a two-pronged initiative, The New Terminal One, a consortium of foreign airlines, developers and business interests, will set aside at least 50 food and beverage concessions for New York City-based restaurants and include “a significant focus” on Queens-based businesses.

Added to that the PA and airport officials will offer a training program to enable small businesses to qualify and compete for other future concessions opportunities.

Cotton also said they will continue to work with the communities to foster responsible environmental stewardship [see related story in some editions and online at qchron.com].

“As we move forward with the modernization of JFK Airport, we want to ensure that the historic transformation of the airport will also lift up the surrounding Queens communities,” Cuomo said in a subsequent press release issued by his office. “These initiatives will support businesses and help the local community find new jobs, providing an additional regional economic boost as we enter the next phase of the airport redevelopment.”

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens, Nassau), speaking from the podium in Jamaica, thanked Cuomo on Tuesday.

“He kept his promise,” Meeks said.

The PA is forecasting the creation of 9,600 direct jobs from the JFK rebuild and 15,000 overall. Borough President Melinda Katz told the group it only could have happened with all parties working in synch and thinking big when a major project availed itself, not only with JFK but the ongoing reconstruction of LaGuardia Airport.

“If we didn’t take advantage of these economic development opportunities, this was not going to happen,” she said. “It was the perfect opportunity.”

Thomas Grech, president and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, told the Chronicle that even the outreach office itself, which opened up a year ago, was a sign of the PA’s commitment to Queens communities. He said the chamber stands ready to help guide any business through the process to register as an MWBE, or to qualify for primary or subcontractor designation.

“We can help them with the Port Authority, the city and the state,” he said.

Kevin Anderson, founder of 100 Suits for 100 Men, believes the long-range economic benefits for Queens businesses and residents could be incalculable.

“This is something I’ve been fighting for for 10 years,” he said. “And these are not just jobs — these are careers, which can lift up individuals and families, bring people into the middle class. Young people can afford to stay here. They won’t have to sell their family homes.”

The state expects groundbreaking next year with construction complete in 2025.

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