Willets work deal reached

By Stephen Stirling

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall announced last week a deal has been struck with the city that guarantees minority, women and locally owned businesses will be involved in every aspect of the Willets Point redevelopment plan should it be approved.

The deal would guarantee that minorities, women and Queens-based labor be used from start to finish on the project — beginning with the construction of the project itself to the jobs and businesses available at the site when it is completed.

The agreement also includes the creation of a $2.5 million fund to boost the ability of smaller construction firms to bid on contracts for the project.

The agreement was negotiated between the city and the Willets Point Minority, Women-Owned Enterprises and Local Hiring Task Force, which Marshall leads.

Marshall, who gave her official blessing to the city's vision to transform Willets Point into a sprawling residential and commercial development just last week, called the agreement a major achievement.

“I worked hard to negotiate and obtain the goals that we are announcing today And the $2.5 million funding will go a long way toward increasing the ability of smaller firms to compete in the large arena,” she said Aug. 6.

“It will also help to ensure that the redevelopment project moves forward in a fair and equitable fashion that takes advantage of local opportunities and establishment of the goals will ensure that the building of a new Willets Point will have a Project Labor Agreement.”

Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert Lieber also applauded the agreement.

“This comprehensive participation, capacity building and mentoring program will be a vital part of the plan for Willets Point moving forward,” Lieber said.

Under the agreement, at least 20 percent of the construction contracts associated with the project would be awarded to minority-owned firms, while at least 10 percent would be set aside for women-owned firms. Additionally, at least 35 percent of the work hours would be set aside for minority construction workers while no less than 10 percent would be reserved for women construction workers.

Once the project is completed, the agreement guarantees that minority-owned enterprises would be guaranteed 15 percent of the total dollar value of post-construction purchasing and services contracts, while 10 percent would be assured for women-owned enterprises.

Under Marshall's agreement, Queens will also benefit. The agreement guarantees that 25 percent of construction contracts and 15 percent of the businesses and service contracts will be awarded to businesses based in Queens. The work force hiring goals include specific commitments to communities directly affected by the project, including Corona, Flushing and East Elmhurst, according to the agreement.

“This is a major step forward,” Marshall said.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.