Port Authority Hits $1 Billion Milestone in M/WBE Awards

Earlier last month, as the whole world looked on, water finally began to flow in the reflecting pools at the World Trade Center memorial. The promenade featuring hundreds of stately swamp oaks opened to visitors. Artifacts from September 11, 2001 were installed in the underground 9/11 Museum. And looming high above it all, the architectural marvel known as One World Trade Center surpassed 1,000 feet to take its place as the tallest building in lower Manhattan.

Some forms of progress are easy to see. Others remain hidden to the naked eye, and yet they are no less important.

"You only hit a billion dollars once," says Lash Green, Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's Office of Business Diversity and Civil Rights (OBDCR). "It's a major milestone for everyone: our agency, the World Trade Center, our prime contractors, our region, and of course our dedicated family of minority and women-owned business enterprises (M/WBEs)."

Mr. Green refers to the fact that $1 billion in World Trade Center related contracts have been awarded to M/WBEs since 2007. "This accomplishment is especially remarkable," says Mr. Green, "when you consider the sheer complexity of the WTC Redevelopment project. It's a massive puzzle of logistics, materials, movement, and security – not to mention the emotions involved with rebuilding such an important site. We have multiple construction projects taking place at the same time, and all of them are progressing faster than many would have dreamed possible. Since the project began, close to 200 M/WBE companies have won contracts in construction, architectural and engineering, and goods and services procurement categories. How we managed to get to that award level under trying conditions… that's a story I wish more people knew. We're very proud of what OBDCR staff, working with key internal and external partners, has been able to accomplish."

The Port Authority specifically established OBDCR to maximize opportunities for M/WBEs over 25 years ago. On the downtown projects, the office works closely with the Port Authority's WTC Construction and Procurement departments to ensure M/WBE subcontracting goals are included in all contracts. OBDCR staff also collaborates with prime contractors, including providing assistance with identifying potential M/WBE bidders, to make certain M/WBE participation targets are met.

"We will not allow a prime contractor to receive an award," says Mr. Green, "until they have provided us with an M/WBE Participation Plan that details how they will meet the M/WBE subcontracting goals in their contract, typically, 17 percent."

This goal has been met or exceeded time and again. Take 2010, for instance. During that year, approximately $1.3 billion in contracts were awarded to firms working to reconstruct the World Trade Center. Of this amount, 21 percent (or $258 million) was awarded to 87 M/WBEs. The trend continues this year. Already in 2011, through the second quarter ending June 30, M/WBEs have won $105 million in contracts.

"We've made a habit of exceeding our benchmarks time and again," says Mr. Green. "So that's become the new mark: not to meet expectations, but to surpass them."

The World Trade Center Transportation Hub appears to provide an excellent example of this. The largest part of the WTC construction effort, the Hub is expected to cost $3.44 billion overall. The project is managed by the joint venture Tishman/Turner JV.

In 2010, the WTC Transportation Hub project exceeded its goal of 17 percent combined M/WBE participation. Partially funded by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the WTC Hub generated $176 million in contracts for qualified M/WBEs, representing 19 percent of all awards. It was also responsible for awarding one of the largest prime awards to a certified WBE firm and participant in our Mentor-Protégé Program; A&A Industrial Piping, Inc. won a contract for approximately $50 million to complete HVAC work associated with Hub construction. Other significant multi-million dollar contracts went to MBE firms: D-Star Star Waterproofing Inc., Total Electrical Construction Co. Inc, Park Avenue Building & Supplies, LLC and New England Construction Co., Inc.

"These are just a few examples," says Jacqueline Grossgold of OBDCR. "But the picture is clear across the board. M/WBE firms gain opportunities because the Port Authority and its prime contractors have committed to getting them involved."

David B. Tweedy, the Port Authority's Chief of Capital Planning, agrees. "Working together, that's the theme. As multi-faceted as our programs are, they each contribute to a single goal: to ensure maximum participation throughout the broad base of our subcontracting community. A billion dollars is just the beginning."

Whatever your business needs, the Office of Business Diversity & Civil Rights of The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey stands ready to assist you. We look forward to continuing our service to you. Please feel free to contact Jacqueline Grossgold with your questions and suggestions.

Three Best Practices Paved Road To $1 Billion For M/WBEs

The Port Authority's commitment to include M/WBEs in all World Trade Center opportunities is a bold step toward prosperity and diversity for the New York metropolitan region. To achieve this level of unprecedented participation, the Port Authority employed proven strategies that have worked in the past on other large-scale projects and thought outside the box to develop new practices.

"Our success is primarily based on three best practices," says Lash Green, director of the Port Authority's Office of Business Diversity and Civil Rights (OBDCR), "forming a WTC M/WBE Project Oversight Committee, establishing a WTC Business Resource Center, and developing a program of rigorous reporting."

Mr. Green cites the M/WBE Project Oversight Committee as a key catalyst to reaching the recent $1 billion mark for M/WBE WTC participation. The committee meets bi-monthly to discuss any issues barring maximum progress, as well as to seek solutions from within the committee members' expertise. It consists of Lash Green, Chair; Ida Perich and Rob Foreman of OBDCR; Robin Murray, M/WBE Coordinator for World Trade Center Construction (WTCC); and the M/WBE construction manager liaisons for the four major projects: One World Trade Center, Transportation Hub, 9/11 Memorial and Museum, and Vehicular Security Center. (For more information on the role of the M/WBE Coordinator and M/WBE construction manager liaisons, please see the following article Coordinating M/WBE Success).

"A lot gets handled in these meetings," says Mr. Green. "The members put their heads together to find solutions to a variety of issues. The process is as creative as it is collaborative. It's also very effective."

Green says that the oversight committee determined early on that M/WBEs could benefit from having on-site support. And so it established the World Trade Center Business Resource Center (BRC), which opened on July 17, 2008 on the 19th floor of 115 Broadway in Downtown Manhattan.

The BRC offers a full range of services to the M/W/SBE community, including information on upcoming opportunities with WTC redevelopment projects, consultations on accessing technical and financial assistance, construction management training, business seminars and workshops, as well as other relevant courses offered by strategic training partners. Representatives of M/WBEs that are not yet certified can meet one-on-one with members of OBDCR's certification unit. Prime contractors can also obtain assistance identifying M/WBEs that match the necessary skills for subcontracting work. The BRC hosts around 25 meetings a month with individual M/WBE firms, as well as a continuing series of workshops on accessing opportunities and capacity building (generally, there are two sessions per quarter). It also hosts presentations by speakers such as Steve Plate, director, WTC Construction plus bi-monthly oversight meetings on the progress of M/WBE participation with the M/WBE liaisons for the WTC projects. "But reporting also plays a very large role in all this," says Mr. Green. "For compliance purposes, OBDCR and WTCC require all WTC project liaisons to submit quarterly reports detailing the progress they have made toward their M/WBE subcontracting goals. Reporting also includes the relaying of important prequalification information and bidding opportunities to the appropriate firms. At times, our office functions as a sort of giant information clearinghouse."

Green points out that, under current guidelines, no prime construction firm can be awarded a contract unless its M/WBE Participation Plan has been received, vetted, and approved by the WTC Construction Manager. The 17 percent subcontracting goal is a contractual stipulation that Green says primes meet with guidance from the WTC Coordinator and oversight committee when necessary.

"These efforts are just the beginning," says Jacqueline Grossgold of OBDCR. "With all this momentum moving in our favor, who knows what the next decade will bring? We have an incredibly hardworking staff whose dedication continues to impress and amaze us. But we can't stress this enough – the real testament to the success of our programs lies with our certified M/W/SBE firms."

Coordinating M/WBE Success

"When it came to rebuilding the WTC, we spotted a potential problem early on," says Lash Green, director of the Port Authority's Office of Business Diversity and Civil Rights (OBDCR). "With so many M/WBE firms working downtown, how could we possibly keep track of them all, while still working hard to ensure that future contracts were channeled to appropriate M/WBE firms?"

Green says the solution to that problem lay in developing a new position for a dedicated M/WBE Coordinator, an idea first proposed by Steve Plate, director of the Port Authority's World Trade Center Construction (WTCC) department.

"WTCC needed someone special and skilled to take on this new role," says Lash Green, "so the job of M/WBE Coordinator went to Robin Murray. Robin used to work for us at OBDCR. Having her step into the Coordinator position over at WTCC provided our office with the perfect liaison, as well as a candidate with particularly fierce dedication toward the prosperity of our M/WBE community."

Ms. Murray serves as Project Manager of M/WBE Programs for the major World Trade Center projects -- including One WTC, the Transit Hub, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, and the Vehicle Security Center – and encourages the inclusion of M/WBEs in all opportunities. She works with the Office of the Inspector General to supply information when requested regarding M/WBE firms, payroll reports, and certifications updates. Additionally, she interacts with the engineers preparing subcontracts to gage the possibility of M/WBE participation in all areas, and consults with the Procurement staff to ensure that appropriate M/WBE goals are included.

Ms. Murray is quick to laugh about the success she's clearly achieved serving in her new position. She deflects attention toward the four compliance officers she manages, whom she calls "unsung heroes" and whose work, she says have not only significantly improved downtown Manhattan, but the career prospects of several M/WBE firms.

"If it wasn't for my compliance officers, we could never have reached a billion dollars," Ms. Murray says. "These four people are not afraid to set high goals. They really want to see our M/WBE firms grow."

One person she's talking about is Robyn Odita, Tishman Construction Corporation's Affirmative Action Manager for the M/WBE program at the WTC Vehicular Security Center and Tour Bus Facility. Mrs. Odita brings 19 years' experience as a mentor to minority- and women-owned enterprises to her job. "Robyn's passion is helping these businesses succeed in the construction industry," says Murray. "She develops, communicates, and implements initiatives that win M/WBEs the contracts they need to stay in business and grow. Her dream is to build the widest, diverse contractor base possible for this region, and she doesn't take no for an answer."

No less important is Sheree Page, Supplier Diversity Manager for the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Ms. Page has 15 years' experience overseeing NYC, NYS, federal, local, and privately regulated programs for certified Minority-and Women-owned Business Enterprises, and Local Business Enterprises (M/W/LBEs). Among her many current responsibilities, she works with project teams to identify and recommend M/W/LBEs for contracting opportunities, analyzes bids/proposals submitted to ensure compliance with M/W/LBE participation provisions, and conducts EEO/Affirmative Action workshops and business procurement training programs. She prepares required monthly statistical compliance reports and prepares final closeout package documents for submission to respective agencies.

Flora Ramos never planned to work on the World Trade Center project, but she now considers it one of the most important assignments of her career. "Being part of the rebuilding effort is a great honor," she says. Ms. Ramos has been with Tishman Construction since 1993, serving in several unique roles on many high-profile projects across the New York metropolitan area, including the new 7 World Trade Center, where she played an instrumental role in the building gaining Gold status as NYC's first LEED CS certified office building. Other projects include the Continental Airlines Global Gateway Program at Newark Liberty International Airport, and Claremont Tower, the regional FBI Headquarters in downtown Newark, NJ. Ms. Ramos currently works with the Tishman team that manages construction for One WTC. She was recently promoted to Director of Community Relations. "And then there's Bill Quinn," says Robin Murray.

Mr. Quinn retired from the Port Authority's Aviation Department in 2004 after 25 years of service. "Most people would retire after as many years as I'd worked. But you know, I knew I could never do that. Working on the World Trade Center Transportation Hub project is such an honor, and my way of paying tribute to those who were lost that day."

Bill Quinn began his second career with Bovis Lend Lease as part of Phoenix Constructors, JV in the rebuilding of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub. After bringing himself up to speed on the requirements necessary to achieve a high level of M/WBE participation, he became highly skilled at promoting M/WBE opportunities on the $3.44 billion dollar Hub project. Through his dedication and commitment, Bill has yielded over $392 million in contract awards for certified M/WBE firms. Recently, he was charged with managing the WTC Retail and Pre-tenant Fit-Out project – and he's already meeting his goals.

"I'm so happy to have these folks on my team," says Robin Murray.

The four compliance officers feel the same way about her. "The M/WBE community has a real friend in Robin Murray."

The Mentor-Protégé Factor

Launched in 2002, The Port Authority's unique three-year Mentor-Protégé program seeks to increase the number of Port Authority-certified Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises (M/WBEs) capable of bidding successfully on larger construction contracts with public and private organizations alike. The program accomplishes this by providing one-on-one mentoring as well as offering free training and advice to improve the protégés' management, organization, and construction skills. The training curriculum consists of the following eight key courses:

  • Construction Contract Law
  • Construction Estimating
  • Financial Management (Financial Strategies)
  • Managing Projects Between $500,000 and $3 Million (Project Management)
  • OSHA and Your Responsibilities–Understanding Safety
  • Planning and Scheduling to Reduce Project Costs
  • Project Controls, and
  • Professional Development.

In essence, these courses comprise the skills required for success. And the program seems to be working quite well; it's graduated nineteen participants since 2005, many of which have reported increased business as a direct result of their participation.

"It works because it's a collaborative effort," says Lash Green, director of the Port Authority's Office of Business Diversity & Civil Rights (OBDCR). "The Mentor-Protégé program draws upon the strengths of both OBDCR and the Port Authority's Engineering Department.. The Engineering Department's Construction Management Division staff identifies the mentors best suited to work with individual firms. We collaborate on the best courses of action to secure the maximum educational experience for participants. It's created great interdepartmental esprit de corps, which in turn benefits the entire M/WBE community."

"This program is a major example of how the Port Authority – by working with its public and private partners – helps to strengthen the regional economy," says Jacqueline Grossgold of OBDCR. "The mentor-protégé relationship creates many new business opportunities at the same time as it broadens workforce participation."

The current crop of protégés agree. "The program benefited my company tremendously," says Leslaine Lambert of Lambco Erecting, Inc. "One-on-one mentoring, the classes, the workshops… they all provided tangible assets which I leveraged to network and create new opportunities for work."

Lambco has been working downtown for years. The company produced a highly visible, state of the art cocoon that wrapped the base of One World Trade Center during construction.

Founded in 2004, Lambco specializes in the fabrication and erection of structural and miscellaneous steel, including but not limited for bridges, hospitals, schools, metal deck installation, and welding studs. Lambco became a Port Authority protégé in 2006.

"Minority-owned companies that don't have the knowledge and tools are particularly prone to fail," says Ms. Lambert. "But the program provides excellent training and gives you information that money can't buy. The key to success in any business is to be ready when opportunity comes. The Mentor-Protégé program prepared me for that."

"The program takes dedication and time to reap the maximum benefit," says Rosemary Ravella, President of A&A Industrial Piping, Inc. "I made sure that all members of A&A attended the mandatory meetings and seminars which the program provided. I would also send individual members to attend specific topics offering training that would benefit their skills set."

Founded in 1990, A&A is a full-service mechanical contractor specializing in pure water systems, orbital welding, process piping, and HVAC. The company is LEED certified and has worked on several large Port Authority projects over the years, including jobs at Newark Liberty International Airport, the George Washington Bridge, and the Lincoln Tunnel. A&A currently has three jobs at the WTC including a $50 million contract for HVAC work associated with the WTC Transportation Hub project.

"Like I say, it's a lot of work," says Ms. Ravella. "But the outcome is clear: working with my mentor was very informative. It helped my company to become visible to other contractors, such as Tishman, Tisman/Turner, JV and Skanska/Granite/Skanska, JV."

Veronica Rose reports that revenue growth has increased 20 percent and sales have more than doubled since her company, Aurora Electric Inc., entered the Mentor-Protégé program. "We're in systems installations," she says. "The company was founded in 1993 and I can say without question that we benefit from being a Port Authority protégé. Opportunities like this simply cannot be obtained through any other venue."

Ms. Rose echoes Ms. Ravella's sentiments regarding hard work. "You get out of the Mentor-Protégé program what you put into it. I have a saying, 'Easily gained is easily lost. What's obtained without effort is worth what is cost!' The program took great effort, but for this, it was also priceless."

Apart from getting a new office and implementing new field procedures, Ms. Rose cites the Mentor-Protégé program as acquainting her with some "wonderful people" with whom she's cultivated "genuine friendships." In 2010, Aurora collaborated with Michael Mazzeo Electric to provide a half a million dollars in electrical services on One World Trade Center. Recently Aurora identified, bid, and won two other key projects: the CCTV system upgrade at the Port Authority Bus Terminal and Phase II of the Metro North Croton on Hudson facility. Combined, these projects were valued at $9.6 million.

"The best educational class the program offered was an executive writing seminar," Ms. Rose says. "I put those skills to immediate use."

Richard Armellino, Controller for Megrant Corporation, reports success for his company, which specializes in mechanical construction with deep roots in the power generation industry. Megrant, a WBE, has operated since 1985. Its core competencies include the design and implementation of large-scale industrial applications, as well as steam and high pressure welding, and unique heating/high pressure hot water installations. Megrant has also become extensively involved with the development and implementation of green-energy and technology, including LEED qualified building techniques. In 2008, Megrant was awarded a contract valued at approximately $12 million for HVAC work associated with the perimeter hot water system at One World Trade Center.

"We certainly recommend the Mentor-Protégé program to other businesses," says Mr. Aremellino. "The opportunity to learn and grow, the resources that are made available, and the manner in which everything is conducted would add value to any business. No matter your business size, your area of expertise, or your personnel pool, the Mentor-Protégé program can help grow your business, hone your skills, and become a better contributor to the construction community.

Mr. Sam Mirian, President of Megrant, agrees. "The knowledge sharing that takes place [in the Mentor-Protégé program] helps newer businesses to learn from their predecessors and allows the veteran businesses to give back to the marketplace by imparting their experience and expertise to the next generation. It's a great feeling to have learned from the best and to give back as part of the process."

So what are you waiting for? Join the Port Authority's Mentor-Protégé program! Your success awaits!

Classes & Events


Event Date
Circle of Sisters Friday, October 7, 2011
ASDO's 17th Annual Aviation Networking Event Friday, October 14, 2011


Event Date
Construction Management Certificate Fall 2011
Construction Cost Estimating October 8 and 15, 2011
Writing an Effective Response Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Bonding Education Program Saturday, October 22, 2011
ASDO's 17th Annual Aviation Networking Event Friday, October 14, 2011


Lash Green

Paula London

Roger Hsu
General Manager

M/W/S/DBE Certification Unit

Ida Perich
Manager, Business Utilization and Services

Mariko Egawa
Pr. Business Development Representative
WTC Retail, Real Estate and corporate commodities and services

Robert Foreman
Pr. Business Development Representative
JFK, LGA and WTC construction

Jacqueline Grossgold
Pr. Business Development Representative
JFK, LGA, EWR commodities and services, PATH construction, commodities and services

Quinzell McKenzie
Pr. Business Development Representative
EWR construction, Teterboro and Stewart airport construction, commodities and services

Jorge Mercado
Business Development Representative
LT, HT, GWB, OBX, BB and NY & NJ Marine Terminals construction, commodities and services

Hilary McCarron

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