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Airport projects creating more opportunities for local woman- and minority-owned businesses

(February 15, 2017) When Dan Fernandez Jr. found out his company, McKenzie Contracting, had landed a job working on underground utilities for Tampa International Airport’s historic expansion, he was thrilled. Dan Fernandez

Fernandez saw it as a proving ground for his young Tampa-based firm and a chance to get his name out there and compete for larger jobs in the future. It was everything he hoped.

“The Airport job was, bottom line, critical,” he said. “It really put us on the map.”

His work at the Airport has propelled his company. Since he finished, his volume of business has doubled, his staff size has increased and he was able to purchase a new office building. He also recently launched two new divisions, one dedicated to concrete installation and the other to truck hauling.

“The job grew my company – that job made my company,” he said.

McKenzie Contracting is one of dozens of woman- and minority-owned businesses working on the airport’s $1 billion expansion.

With one year remaining, TPA is expected to spend roughly $157 million with woman- and minority-owned businesses. That’s up from the $122.8 million initially projected. To date, the Airport has already written checks for more than $91 million.

“Tampa International Airport and its contractors are committed to working with woman- and minority-owned businesses,” said Elita McMillion, TPA’s Director of Ethics, Diversity and Administration. “This is an enormous project for the Tampa Bay region and we firmly believe that all businesses – large and small – need to have an opportunity to be a part of it.”

McMillion credited the success in recruiting woman- and minority-owned businesses to the extensive outreach efforts taken by the Airport and contractors. The Airport and its largest design builder, Austin Commercial, have hosted numerous outreach events that have drawn hundreds of interested workers and companies.

Fernandez, of McKenzie, credited the role of the Ariel Business Group, which does outreach for Austin Commercial, to “crack the door” and expose him to the opportunities on the job.

“We never would have had access to this project without their help,” he said.

They are not alone in seeing benefit from the project.

VoltAir Consulting Engineers saw an immediate boost, creating new jobs, expanding its Tampa Heights office and doubling revenue.

Evelyn Cruz D’Amato, who owns Loyal Waterproofing Construction Inc. in Hernando County, Fl, said the Airport job is the largest her company has ever taken, allowing her to hire new staff. She said it will serve as a valuable reference for future jobs.

“It was great to be able to perform on such a major community project,” she said.