Port announces program to increase contracting opportunities on AirTrain project for minority business owners

In a move that aims to increase access to contractor opportunities on the billion-dollar AirTrain project, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced Thursday a new partnership with the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey to implement a training program for minority, women-owned, small and disadvantaged business enterprises and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses.

As with all such programs, the follow-through is key, but here’s how this partnership will go.

The program aims to prepare and position firms located primarily within the municipalities of Newark and Elizabeth to compete for prime and subcontractor opportunities associated with the AirTrain Newark replacement program and other projects.

The Port Authority will replace the existing AirTrain Newark system with a new 2.5-mile automated train system under a multiphase procurement process.

Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole said he is excited by the potential impact.

“At the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, we keep the region moving by air, land, rail and sea, so that the people and businesses of our region continue to thrive,” he said. “As one of the largest economic generators in the region, we also have a commitment to an inclusionary contracting practice and to ensuring the economic benefits of our infrastructure projects are available to the communities surrounding our facilities, which includes job opportunities.”

In keeping with its commitment to communities surrounding its facilities, the Port Authority developed several programs designed to engage local communities in the areas of workforce development and job creation; diversity, equity & inclusion; and education.

Program participants will be connected directly to leaders in finance, law, accounting, information systems, procurement, supply chain, bonding and human resources. The program sessions are held at Rutgers Business School in Newark.

The second cohort began Thursday, with classes starting next Wednesday.

The Port Authority, with the AACCNJ, the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development and Integrity Compliance Consulting, successfully launched the eight-week program consisting of classes with the following curriculum:

  • Marketing/branding/elevator pitch;
  • Project and document management; construction management;
  • Job cost;
  • Bonding/general conditions for bidding/project labor agreements/prevailing wages;
  • Work schedule/forecasting;
  • Estimating/scheduling/change orders;
  • Joint venture/contract law;
  • Financials/bookkeeping/taxes.

John Harmon, the founder and CEO of the AACCNJ, said the goal is equal opportunity.

We are now in those times once again, and the optimal outcomes can be realized when the rules of engagement are clearly defined, and the playing field is available to all to compete effectively, with value being the declared goal,” he said. “The AACCNJ applauds the Port Authority and its team of professionals in their support of our collaborative approach to identify talented businesses from communities near the proposed AirTrain Newark replacement program at a time when others are trepid about creditably engaging MWSDBE and SDVOB enterprises to compete for public- and private-sector opportunities.”

Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said the Port recognizes the value of a diverse workforce and supplier base that reflects the region.

“That diversity will help enhance and promote our operational effectiveness, our brand and our impact in the community, particularly as we are modernizing our facilities,” he said.

Lyneir Richardson, assistant professor of practice at Rutgers Business School and executive director of CUEED, also is excited.

“This is a one-of-a-kind executive education, workforce development and bonding capacity building program. It will increase the readiness of small businesses to sign contracts,” he said. “It leverages the Port Authority’s commitment to local contracting, the connections of AACCNJ, the research on minority business development of CUEED and expertise in procurement of Integrity Compliance Consulting.”

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