Woman- and minority-owned businesses to play a big role in TPA expansion

(December 18, 2014) - VoltAir Consulting Engineers saw an immediate boost to its Tampa operation because of Tampa International Airport’s historic expansion program.

Aerial photo of ConRAC for Master Plan

The company created eight new local jobs and expanded its Tampa Heights office building by about 1,200 square feet after being awarded the contract. Now on pace to more than double revenue for the year, VoltAir has seen added stability and job security for its workforce of 26 employees.

“It’s been a major impact,” said Julius Davis, VoltAir’s president and CEO. “We have the opportunity to market other future projects of the same scale because we have this on our resume. It opens doors for us.”

VoltAir is one of dozens of woman- and minority-owned businesses benefiting directly from work on Tampa International’s $943-million expansion.

The airport has pledged to spend more than $120 million with women- and minority-owned businesses during the first phase of its historic expansion. In addition, the airport’s new concessions program will generate $91 million in revenue for disadvantaged, woman- and minority-owned businesses between 2015 and 2017.

Numerous outreach events are helping the airport reach those targets.

 “Outreach and networking events facilitate open communication and relationship building, which is the key to a successful partnership,” said Cheryl Hawkins, Tampa Airport’s DBE Program Manager.

The airport and its contractors have held a number of events designed to connect minority-and woman-owned businesses to the project. The contractors have also produced newsletters with information about the project and how women- and minority-owned businesses can submit the necessary prequalification forms to vie for work on the project.

An open house in May 2013 at the airport drew representatives from 80 businesses, and a subcontractor outreach fair in June brought more than 400 people together for networking opportunities with the airport’s selected design/build firms.

Austin Commercial, the contractor for the airport’s automated people mover and rental car center, hosted outreach events in June, July, September and early December. They are planning an additional event for early next year. Skanska, the airport’s design-builder for the main terminal expansion hosted outreach events in August and September and will schedule additional event in mid-January and March of next year.

The airport is also hosting a series of workshops aimed at helping small businesses and woman-and minority-owned businesses that need assistance with bonding. Contractors who are not bonded, or who have low bonding limits, miss a lot of opportunities for work because they are unable to bid on large projects, said Patricia Wallace, who leads the bonding workshops and is president of a bonding company that specializes in working with woman- and minority-owned businesses. In the workshops, she provides tips and advice for companies looking to establish more bonding capacity.

The next event, which takes place Jan. 15 at 3 p.m. in the Boardroom, will discuss what small businesses should do if they’re turned down by a bonding company.

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