Teamwork – Airport World
Los Angeles Global Airports (LAWA) is establishing a new model for hiring diverse local teams to work on upgrading LAX and Van Nuys airports, write Chris Robert, Jon Philips and Anne Fletcher.
As the aviation industry begins to wake up after a tumultuous year, we can come back stronger than before, especially when it comes to diversity and inclusion.
In Los Angeles, the city’s travel infrastructure will face its next big challenge as the host city of the 2028 Summer Olympics, with an expected influx of people from around the world.
The 2016 Summer Olympics drew more than 10,000 athletes and 500,000 participants to Rio, and the event brings unprecedented economic activity to every region that spills over to the local travel and business community.
To prepare for this major event, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), owner and operator of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Van Nuys Airport (VNY), has created a new solution to streamline investments in capital required over the next seven years to build capacity.
This solution provides a fair process that includes a range of local businesses and small businesses, disabled veterans and other diverse businesses to take advantage of this significant economic opportunity in a number of ways.
At the heart of the solution, LAWA has created a unique and consolidated on-call vehicle with the most progressive minimums of inclusion in its history. HOK and Arup now serve as the Principal Architect and Principal Engineer to implement a variety of large and small projects for LAWA over the next three years.
The larger HOK + Arup (JV) Joint Venture team includes 47 partners, 30 of which are Local and Minority-Owned Small Businesses (MWBE) in the Los Angeles area, who will work on the design and planning of projects that directly shape the future of the region and their communities for the 2028 Olympics and beyond.
The approach taken by Arup + HOK presents not only a way for LAWA to modernize and improve its airports for travelers and employees, but also a way to engage more directly and thoughtfully with local small businesses, disabled veterans and other miscellaneous businesses.
Currently, there is an opportunity to include more diverse and local businesses in the aviation planning space, and the process led by Arup + HOK has the potential to serve as a model and fill these gaps.
It can be adapted at airports across the country to broaden the diversity of their collaborations, which benefits a region’s key infrastructure and a larger community through employment opportunities, regional capacity building and employee retention. capital in local and regional economies.
To reach such a diverse group of companies, the JV has partnered with Chris Robert, president and founder of The Robert Group, to develop a deliberate outreach plan to target as many local businesses as possible.
Together with Chris, HOK + Arup researched a minimum of six core companies with specialties, a minimum of six local integrated partners and small businesses and dozens of specialist consultants.
These specialist consultants come from a variety of industries such as public health and industry consulting, baggage handling systems, cost estimation, signage and guidance, simulations and modeling, sustainability and business development.
This includes core disciplines such as building systems engineers, traffic engineers, architects, civil and aerodrome engineers, specialist consultants, airport planners, and technology and innovation experts.
With a determined team structure in place, our team hosted an online information session for local small businesses, disabled veterans and other diverse businesses in the area. The biggest challenge in raising awareness was not having a central listing or directory of certified local businesses from which to draw and, due to the pandemic, no in-person events.
In October 2020, we announced a 90-minute virtual briefing to discuss how businesses could join one of Los Angeles’ most important infrastructure projects over the next decade.
The promotion began through emailing and posting on social media, particularly on LinkedIn, to find business organizations that could spread the opportunity.
A large network of business groups included LA Area Chamber, Latino Chambers, National Association of Women Business Owners, Los Angeles Business Council, BizFed, Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber, Culver City Chamber, Inglewood Chamber, El Segundo Chamber and LAX Coastal Chamber to identify a range of local businesses and diverse voices.
We identified 1,621 relevant companies in Los Angeles, resulting in 396 people signing up and 294 joining the 90-minute Webex event. After the event, attendees received an exit survey offering a 15-minute one-on-one meeting with Arup or HOK, which 211 had requested.
The meetings consisted of a guided discussion and questions for the JV team to evaluate for the LAWA projects. Nearly 127 meetings have been completed as of December 1, 2020, augmenting local database information with our own outreach and engagement with local certified businesses in the region that the team should keep on file for future collaborations.
Our efforts have helped secure 47 partners, including 30 small local and minority businesses, to work on projects through LAX and VNY.
The strategic event, and the preparation that preceded it, were necessary to expand MWBE’s research and can serve as a model for how U.S. airports can enhance the diversity of their consultants, suppliers and partners.
Additionally, to further elevate the priority of local small businesses of disabled veterans and other miscellaneous businesses in the various custody contracts, Chris Robert has been named as a key participant at the team leadership level.
LAWA and HOK + Arup JV demonstrated how a commitment to expanding the pool of qualified local small businesses as disabled veterans and other diverse businesses and engaging them in meaningful roles can act as a catalyst to overcome established barriers.
Now is the time for airport operators to make the necessary efforts to upgrade local and minority-owned businesses for infrastructure projects that strengthen the surrounding community.