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ARN News Flash

MNAA Board Clarifies SMWBE Program’s Temporary Suspension
The Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority’s (MNAA) board of commissioners released the following clarification on Sept. 23 of the controversial suspension of its DBE program.

“At the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority’s (MNAA) board of
commissioners meeting yesterday, the ten-member board voted unanimously to temporarily amend the MNAA’s Small, Minority and Women Owned Business (SMWBE) program, which previously established specific percentage goals to award MNAA’s local construction and service contracts to small, women and minority-owned businesses. This amendment, which suspends percentage goals, came on advice from legal counsel due to recent federal court challenges nationwide that have ruled against agencies whose diversity goals were not based on specific data showing discrimination.

“The MNAA SMWBE program, which was established voluntarily by the board of commissioners in 2002 as a vehicle by which to foster and promote small, minority and women owned businesses in the local community, has been very successful in ensuring SMWBEs be provided adequate opportunity to compete for work on locally funded airport projects and expenditures. For fiscal year 06, an overall goal of 6.29% was established, and participation well exceeded that goal by almost 14%, for a yearly total of 19% SMWBE participation.

“While the program has been praised for building bridges of opportunity for SMWBEs in the metropolitan statistical area in which the Nashville International Airport is located, in light of the current court challenges, the board has requested a disparity study be undertaken of MNAA’s contracting history. Meanwhile, the board has requested the MNAA staff to provide monthly reports those details the amount of contracts awarded to SMWBE firms, without a specific percentage goal in place. Also at the board’s direction, Authority staff was asked to prepare an analysis to determine the amount of time it will take to complete the disparity study, as well as a proposed scope of work.

“The board emphasized its strong desire to see the consistent results and continuation of minority participation in all local airport contracts. “The Authority has been and continues to be fully committed to maximizing opportunities for minority inclusion in all aspects of the airport’s business,” stated Raul Regalado, MNAA’s president and CEO.”
See a related story in the ARN November issue, on how some airports are getting proactive with establishing programs outside of DBE programs.

Hudson’s BNA Program to Sing
Music and local dé©cor will drive the aesthetics of a planned upgrade by the Hudson Group (Hudson), to news/gift and specialty retail at Nashville International (BNA). Laura Samuels spokeswoman for Hudson said at press time, “part of the transition is underway as all parties are meeting Oct. 18 to discuss, dates, what’s opening, what’s closing, which stores are to be worked on first; which ones are to be closed completely, and whether it will be a rolling plan.”

According to Joseph DiDomizio, executive vice president and COO, Hudson, the program, which consists of news & gifts and specialty retail is expected to generate about $200 million over the life of the contract. Nashville’s music heritage will be the theme of the program, which features a multi-boutique Hudson concept, Nashville Star, (comprised of Nashville Kitchen, Christmas in Nashville, and Discover Nashville Music City), as well as CMT (Country Music Television), and Sony BMG which offers all types of music. All of the stores will be designed to reflect the local culture so customers will immediately know they are in the famous city, and that related merchandise is readily available, says Samuels. The interior architect, based in Kansas City, will be Transsystems (owner of Silvester +Tafuro).

“Our Nashville Star concept has at the back a performance space, and a karaoke booth where you can record your own voice after purchasing a DVD,” says Samuels, “You can walk out the store with your own voice over the pre-recorded music.”

To comply with the airport’s desire for interactivity, Hudson is developing several concepts. Some of the live music at Nashville Star will be formally scheduled, she says, and some will be improvised by anybody passing by with a guitar or instrument who wants to play.

“Sony BMG will be very interactive and will have every kind of music available,” adds Samuels. “In the front of the store you can download music to your iPod and MP3 player, and in the back is a listening station. Nashville Star will also feature a ‘dynascan,’ a big circular screen playing DVDs, and one wall of the CMT storefront will play DVDs and country music television.”

Paradies Shops Receives Five Awards from DFW
At its second annual D/M/WBE Excellence in Diversity Awards Program held in late September Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW) International awarded The Paradies Shops five distinctive awards. The top honor was the CEO Award, which recognized the concessionaire for “its outstanding commitment to the D/M/WBE program and for demonstrating innovative programs for inclusiveness and diversity. According to its press release, “The Paradies Shops earned the honor in part for partnering with a number of minority and women entrepreneurs since 1987, and for helping foster those enterprises into three highly successful businesses at DFW, including the Jethro Pugh Shops, Mercado Gifts and Two Podners, Inc. The other awards received were: Excellence in Customer Service Award for Retail, Rising Star Award; Leadership Award, and Community Outreach Award.

HDS Retail tests latest POS system
HDS Retail, North America has announced it has started live testing of a new retail point-of-sale (POS) system to be rolled out in the company’s 300 stores. The state-of-the-art technology is the result of several months of intense planning and development in close cooperation with Texas-based Fujitsu, a world leader in retail POS systems. Live testing is an essential step of the process to ensure a seamless transition between the old and the new platform as the new POS is installed in all HDS stores throughout the coming months.

Featuring user-friendly, touch-screen units, the new POS system offers “cutting edge retail technology, absolute data integrity and accuracy,” states the press release. It will allow HDS stores to scan every single item sold, enabling surgical precision when analyzing merchandising performance, and quick replenishment before sellouts occur. Other advantages include “lightning fast data transactions” allowing customer credit card approvals in three seconds or less; increasing customer through-put at peak times; enhanced loss prevention features in support of the company’s excellent track record in making sure that every purchase translates into revenues properly recorded for rent calculation.

The announcement also states that added special features such as remote check-in through handheld devices and the possibility of adding self-scan kiosks make the multi-million dollars investment a solution that will remain relevant for several years ahead and aligned with the company’s long term growth strategy in U.S. and Canadian airports.

Borders Group enters New York airport market
Borders Group, Inc. has announced it will open a new 2,850 sq. ft. store in New York-LaGuardia’s Central Terminal Marketplace, located on the lower level.

The new store will feature bestsellers and key titles for leisure and business travelers, and will offer over 10,000 book titles, including audio books, a limited selection of magazine titles, a selection of health and beauty products, and top selling DVD and CD titles as well as music accessories, all in an award-winning retail format. The bookstore will carry a refined assortment of snack items and have soft seating available for customers who would like to sit comfortably while enjoying the store. Borders also operates stores in airports located in Baltimore, Phoenix, Orlando, Seattle, Newark, Boston, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, North Carolina, as well as in Washington, D.C. and Cincinnati, Ohio.