Port Authority awards record $2.3 Billion in contracts to MWBEs in JFK Airport transformation

port authority
Photo courtesy of the Port Authority

The Port Authority announced on Monday a historic milestone in the ongoing $19 billion transformation of JFK International Airport, where a record $2.3 billion in contracts have been awarded to Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE).

Photo courtesy of the Port Authority

The JFK redevelopment also demonstrates a significant focus on working with local contractors, awarding more than $950 million in contracts to Queens-based businesses to date.

Photo courtesy of the Port Authority

“When we embarked on this historic, $19 billion public-private effort to transform JFK into a world-class international gateway, we pledged that the economic opportunities generated at the airport would flow fairly to the neighborhoods surrounding the airport,” Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said. “Working with our private partners at JFK and with our JFK Redevelopment Community Advisory Council, we have turned that pledge into economic reality for hundreds of MWBEs and local businesses.”

Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton announced that almost $1 billion in contracts will be going to MWBEs. Photo courtesy of the Port Authority

With Monday’s announcement, JFK surpassed 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.

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards greets Port Authority executive director Rick Cotton with a hug on Monday as he announced nearly $1 billion in contracts for Queens-based MWBEs. Photo courtesy of Port Authority

“The redevelopment of Kennedy Airport is about so much more than new gates and terminals. It’s about upward mobility and pathways to prosperity for thousands of Queens residents from historically marginalized communities who call the airport their workplace,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “Since ground was first broken, this project has been of, for and by Queens, and never has that been clearer than today, as we break MWBE participation records.”

Richards co-chairs the Community Advisory Council with Congressman Gregory Meeks.

“I understand the importance of creating wealth-building and entrepreneurial opportunities for individuals who have historically faced barriers,” Meeks said. “This more than $2.3 billion milestone emphasizes the commitment of the JFK Redevelopment project to drive economic growth that is beneficial to New Yorkers. Most importantly, this development continues to make key investments into local communities not only in Queens but across the state.”

As the $19 billion project moves forward, additional contracts with MWBE firms will be awarded to meet the Port Authority’s goal of 30% MWBE participation for the agency’s capital projects, consistent with Governor Kathy Hochul’s nation-leading goals for MWBE utilization in state projects.

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

Currently, 680 MWBEs have been awarded contracts at JFK with more than 200 businesses based in Queens.

“This is an impressive milestone, with much more work still to come,” Greater Jamaica Development Corporation President and CEO Justin Rogers said. “While the redevelopment is not complete, the positive impact is being realized.”

The economic empowerment is impacting the entire borough.

“We have long advocated for the inclusion of MWBE participation during construction at JFK Airport, and this accomplishment signifies not only progress but also the potential for continued growth within our local business community,” Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Grech said.

Since its inception in 2018, the Community Advisory Council has been working with the Port Authority and its private partners to expand community outreach efforts and develop community-focused programs. This includes a commitment to a 30% MWBE contracting goal in all categories of work.

“From the start of the redevelopment of JFK International Airport, it has always been clear that M/WBE firms, local small businesses, and Southeast Queens residents can contribute and benefit from the opportunities generated by this $19 billion project,” Speaker Adrienne Adams said. “I look forward to the continued partnership with my colleagues in government that ensures the investments from this project reach our Southeast Queens community and advance more equitable contracting.”

Assemblymember Alicia Hyndman said the record-breaking milestone 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 girls,” Hyndman said. “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.”

As someone who worked for the JFK Redevelopment Program before entering politics, Council Member Nantasha Williams said she was proud to see the progress and the significant impact it’s making on Southeast Queens.

“With ongoing construction and continued engagement with MWBE firms, we’re set to surpass even greater heights before the project’s completion in 2028,” Williams said. “This milestone not only highlights the success of the JFK redevelopment but also serves as a testament to the power of collaboration and inclusivity in driving economic growth and prosperity.”