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Port Authority launches mentoring program for southeast Queens businesses seeking opportunities at new JFK

Jul. 27, 2023 By Bill Parry

Southeast Queens entrepreneurs seeking opportunities will have a unique new resource on their pathway to success as the $19 billion transformation to JFK Airport proceeds.

The Port Authority announced on Wednesday the launch of a specialized training program to be called the Institute of Concessions (IOC), offering extensive training and mentoring intended to increase the number of local and diverse airport concessionaires as part of the agency’s community development program that is the centerpiece of the Port Authority’s redevelopment of JFK. Applications are now being accepted.

“With the $19 billion transformation of JFK Airport into a world-class global gateway fully underway, we are committed to ensuring that this historic project will also provide opportunities to the surrounding communities,” Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said. “The Institute of Concessions will provide the training and support needed to help local businesses participate fully in the new concession program at JFK.”

The IOC is a new multi-faceted program that will provide in-depth knowledge, understanding, and practice of key competencies identified in a study by The Academies of Sciences and Transportation Research Board as necessary to successfully operate a concession in an airport terminal. The education and training will be delivered by successful subject-matter experts on topics such as customer experience, financial investment and return, design and construction, operations and management, security requirements and more. Opportunities for networking with terminal operators and mentoring by successful concessionaires will also be available.

“This new multi-faceted program will provide a gateway for local and diverse businesses to gain the in-depth knowledge that is essential to successfully bid for and operate an airport concession,” Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole said. “The Institute of Concessions will initially focus on concessions at the major airports with the goal of expanding its work to concession opportunities at any Port Authority facility.”

By completing the IOC, businesses will be equipped with the necessary skills to competitively bid for concession opportunities, win contracts, and effectively operate concessions within the airport. The goal is to create a pipeline of local and diverse businesses that can demonstrate to the Port Authority and its terminal partners their ability to successfully manage concessions and contribute to the overall success of the airport.

“The Institute of Concessions provides a wonderful opportunity to orient firms to the process of doing business in the airport environment,” said Charles Everett, director of the Port Authority’s Aviation Department. “This initial exposure will give firms a head start or competitive advantage to newcomers who do not have such experience or awareness. We are excited to be able to deliver such an innovative program in association with our partners.”

When the JFK Redevelopment Community Advisory Council was formed in 2018, co-chaired by Congressman Gregory Meeks and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, the panel has been working with the Port Authority to ensure the massive project would provide meaningful opportunities for local and diverse businesses, MWBEs, students and job seekers.

“The establishment of the Institute of Concessions program is yet another milestone in the continued revitalization of the JFK International Airport,” Meeks said. “JFK is not only our nation’s global gateway, but a vital part of creating new economic opportunities in New York. This demonstrates our commitment to providing local women- and minority-owned businesses with the resources they needed to excel in concession operations. We must continue to work together to transform the workforce, expand business development, and grow education and sustainability programs to our community.”

Richards said the IOC will be a valuable tool for helping Queens businesses access the many concession opportunities available at JFK.

“Queens truly is ‘The World’s Borough,’ and the IOC will help our borough’s business owners successfully market authentic Queens foods, beverages, and retail products to the global travelers who shop at JFK Airport’s concessions,” Richards said. “The creation of the IOC is a great step forward in getting the local community involved in JFK’s historic redevelopment.”

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards says the new Institute of Concessions will be a valuable tool for area businesses to gain access to opportunity.File photo be Dean Moses

The first cohort of the Institute of Concessions will launch in mid-September with a class of 10 local and diverse businesses that will be selected to attend the in-person program. The program is being coordinated by Jars of Delight, a southeast Queens-based minority and women-owned business enterprise (MWBE), and its CEO Dianna Rose, who was selected after a competitive solicitation.

“We always believed that the redevelopment of JFK will be a boon for southeast Queens, and the Institute of Concessions provides a tremendous opportunity for local small businesses to share the benefits,” said Justin Rodgers, president and CEO of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation and the Business Development Committee co-chair of the JFKR Community Advisory Council. “We are proud to be a partner in this business development program.”

For more information on the IOC, including eligibility requirements, interested businesses should visit panynj.gov/institute-of-concessions. Applications are being accepted now through August 25.

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