Representatives from 80 businesses, many from the Tampa Bay area, attended a business networking event at the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority earlier this month to learn more about upcoming construction projects, learn more about the airport’s procurement process and become familiar with departments that frequently purchase goods and services.
“This event was designed for businesses to network in order to develop lasting business relationships,” said Cheryl Hawkins, Tampa Airport’s DBE Program Manager. “I have received very positive feedback from Authority staff as well as the businesses in attendance indicating that they appreciated having the one-on-one conversations that will hopefully be the foundation for future procurement opportunities.
Airport participants included staff from Planning and Development, Procurement, Airport Concessions, Human Resources, Marketing, Guest Services, IT, Maintenance and the DBE office.
Business opportunities at the airport abound. The Aviation Authority recently approved the 2012 Master Plan Update that creates a blueprint for future projects. The first phase of the 20-year, $2.5 billion plan includes a consolidated rental car facility connected to the terminal by an automated people mover and expansion of the main terminal to provide more room for passenger and visitor circulation and create new concession space. The planning and design process is already underway, meaning that millions of dollars in work and hundreds of jobs are soon coming to Tampa Bay.
Darryl Daniels, President and CEO of Jacobsen Daniels, said he attended the event to build a relationship with the Aviation Authority in advance of all of the projects associated with the Master Plan. A division of his company specializes in the design of Rental Car Facilities.
“This is such specialized work, airport work, so it’s not often that you’re going to find all of the specialties on one community. You have to reach out and find those business partners,” said Daniels. “You meet people who have worked all over the country, and they bring those best practices from other airports to you. It really is the way to bring the best and the brightest from all over. We come here to also meet with other local businesses who we can partner with – both in projects locally and throughout the country. It’s an important network in the aviation industry.”
Daniels, who chairs the Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC), an organization dedicated to the promotion and participation of minority-owned, women-owned and disadvantaged business enterprises (M/W/DBEs) in airport contracting, said he was impressed with the event and would like to see more airports follow Tampa’s lead, especially when there are large development projects on the horizon.
Carlos Rodriguez, president of Maverick Constructors, said networking at the airport is especially important to him as a local business owner.
“It is absolutely helpful. Great outreach. It is an enormous opportunity to have all of the decision makers in one room, and to be able to meet them face to face. I believe that people do business with people, not companies,” said Rodriguez. “Events like this are good for the community, because most of the companies and their employees are local. So we’re talking about bringing more employment to the community, real jobs, and that’s a great thing. The airport truly is the heart of the community. It’s where people come when they visit, and it brings valuable jobs to the people who live here.”