Airport hopes to connect with local businesses


Gerald R. Ford International Airport is reaching out to the local business community.

With a number of projects on the horizon, plus a steady increase in passenger traffic, airport officials are making an effort to connect with local and disadvantaged businesses to see if there are connections that can be made to benefit both parties.

The airport is hosting an open house to share information about its needs and business opportunities Dec. 13 in the facility’s International Room on the first floor. The event takes place from 1-4 p.m. and includes a presentation by the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority at 2 p.m.

The open house is meant to make business opportunities known and available to all local business owners, according to Jim Gill, the airport’s president and CEO.

“I think we have an obligation to reach out to our local business community and our disadvantaged businesses community,” he said.

Gill said he understands there are many small-business owners who may not know how to do business with the airport. He wants to give them the opportunity to learn and ask questions.

There will be airport authority representatives present from finance, purchasing, maintenance, technology and engineering departments, as well as airport vendor representatives.

Michigan Department of Transportation representatives will be available to give minority business owners information on how to become certified with the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise. Gill said he hopes to host a workshop with this information in the future.

He said the information presented at the open house not only helps local business by informing them of opportunities, but it also helps the airport.

“We definitely hope that we can have the opportunity to see more contractors at the table when it comes time for us to give bids,” he said.

More quality contractors in competition means better pricing for the airport, he said.

Gill said there are many ongoing business opportunities available with the airport for general operations that include landscaping, snow removal and printing services. There also are ongoing capital improvement purchases, such as yearly equipment purchases of vehicles or specialty equipment.

A large upcoming project the airport will create bid opportunities for is the second phase of the $45-milion Gateway Transformation Project. Worth $13 million, this phase includes improvements to airline ticketing, baggage screening and baggage claim areas and is slated to begin in 2018.

A two-year airport apron construction project is slated to begin in the spring of 2018, and the airport authority is in master planning stages for large-scale projects in the future, nothing of which has been finalized.

With an economic impact of more than $3.1 billion, according to the last study in 2015, Tara Hernandez, the airport authority’s marketing and communications director, said it’s important for local businesses to be involved when possible, and this open house hopefully will help.

“It’s a good opportunity for us,” she said.

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