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2 Organizations Testify In Support Of DBE Program

Two airport organizations have recently testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on the Department of Transportation’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program.

Airports Council International-North America and the Airport Minority Advisory Council both offered support of the program, which was established to stop discrimination against minority- and women-owned in the award and administration of DOT-assisted contracts in the department’s highway, transit, airport and highway safety financial assistance programs. Any airport that receives federal funding must maintain a DBE program.

Richard White, chairman of ACI-NA’s Business Diversity Committee and vice president of properties and business development of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority, says the authority and its sister airports throughout the nation have worked to ensure DBE participation in contracting.

“Airports are an integral part of their community,” he told the committee. “As such, ensuring inclusion is an ever-present concern, not only in our long term project planning, but in the day-to-day work of the airport.”

He also referenced the 2007 ACI-NA Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program Survey, which said one obstacle in fostering a successful program was lack of training and a uniform certification form for the current Unified Certification Programs.  The UCPs are recognized throughout the state, he said, but finding certified DBEs has been a challenge.

Don O’Bannon, AMAC chairman and vice president of business development at Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW) also voiced his organization’s support of the program.

“AMAC strongly urges Congress to continue to investigate and document the continuing impact of discrimination against minority- and women-owned businesses in airport-related industries,” he said.

He also gave the committee statistical evidence showing ongoing discrimination faced by minority- and women-owned businesses in the airport industry, thus proving the need for the program.
“Many of the studies also present extensive anecdotal evidence of discrimination, which gives life to the statistics and makes clear how discrimination actually works and how it specifically impacts minority- and women-owned businesses at every stage of the process,” O’Bannon stated.  “These anecdotes are the stories of individuals who struggle with discrimination as they seek to build their businesses, support their families, and contribute to our national economy.”