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BWI contract should move forward with Landover-based firm | READER COMMENTARY

Fraport USA, which currently manages concessions at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, may soon be replaced under a proposed contract expected to soon be brought to the Maryland Board of Public Works. File. (Paul W. Gillespie/Capital Gazette).

I was disappointed to read the recent editorial in The Baltimore Sun encouraging the Maryland Board of Public Works to delay their decision in approving the award of a high-profile Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall contract to a local, minority-owned business (”Resolving disputed BWI contract should fall to Moore administration,” Dec. 1). The Maryland Department of Transportation has been very clear on their timeline for this procurement since it was advertised in the spring of this year. Nothing has been rushed through the system to benefit any bidder. On May 31, MDOT stated that it intended to recommend an award on Nov. 1 with the new contract start date on Jan. 1, 2023.

On Nov. 9, MDOT and the Maryland Aviation Administration recommended Landover-based New Market Development for the award of BWI’s concessions management contract. As a Marylander and member of their team and advocate for workforce development, I could not be happier to see a local, minority-owned firm recommended for this important contract.

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The airport’s recommendation for award, which must now be ratified by the Board of Public Works, is a triumph for diversity, equity and inclusion goals for the state. For too long and in too many corners of private-sector dealings, the inclusion of minority-owned firms has been controlled by the largest companies and subject only to their charitable impulses. I am encouraged to see MDOT and MAA “walk the walk” to support the agenda of our state leaders to provide meaningful and significant opportunities to small, local and minority-owned businesses.

State-controlled public spaces must provide economic opportunity for Marylanders and, where possible, in under-represented communities. New Market Development itself is made up of both and their plan for small and minority-owned firms is ambitious and unprecedented in the industry. Indeed, their stable of partners is comprised of who’s who in high-level minority-owned local firms. After an elaborate and thorough procurement process, MDOT now seeks BPW approval in order to advance New Market Development’s vision for small and minority-owned economic development worthy of Maryland’s ambitions and in keeping with our government leaders’ goals.

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During my earliest discussions with New Market Development President Major F. Riddick Jr. and his team, I was impressed by their vision for engaging with the community — not as a strategy for winning the contract, but as a moral business imperative. They were willing to come right into the community where I am located and explain their vision and really hear about the work my team is doing to offer opportunities in under-served communities. When you have an organization that has their capacity and experience but also the willingness to listen and work with you and collaborate, that’s really a fantastic thing.

I would also like to point out that MDOT and MAA have not compromised on experience or credentials in choosing New Market Development. Members of the New Market Development team have over a hundred years in this business and specifically more experience at BWI than any of the foreign-owned companies bidding for this contract.

In managing this procurement, MDOT and MAA have so far done the right thing. The selection of a highly-qualified, Maryland-based company, made up of industry leaders familiar with our state, our goal, and our communities is a victory that should be celebrated. Gov. Larry Hogan has been very vocal in his support of disadvantaged local businesses from the beginning of his service to the state. It is absolutely appropriate for his administration to finalize this contract before the end of his term. I hope the voting members of the Board of Public Works support the hard work done by the state agencies and approve their award recommendation without delay.

— Alvin C. Hathaway Sr., Baltimore

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