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Involving small contractors is big business for airport authority

In 2009, the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority Board adopted a small-business preference policy. Since then, “The airport has had a strong commitment to maximizing opportunities for small and local businesses to compete for contracts,” says Sonia Cruz, small-business development program manager for the airport authority.

In fact, about 225 small businesses were awarded roughly $118 million in contracts for work involving The Green Build project at San Diego International Airport.

Among the subcontractors hired was Quick Crete Products Corp., Norco, California, which made Terminal 2’s landside perimeter security concrete pieces. URS, one of the architects for the landside improvements, specified QCP’s steel-reinforced bollards, benches, planters and trash cans.

“We knew about jobs at the airport because we got an email from the authority on an upcoming small business workshop,” says Scott Ulrich, QCP vice president.

“The best way to bid jobs at the San Diego Airport as a small business is to stay in touch with the estimators of the large construction companies,” he advises others who would like to land a contract. “And make sure they are aware that your company is a small business.”

“We know that small businesses are often overwhelmed with the process,” says Cruz, “so we offer educational programs to support their participation.”

Besides regularly sponsoring opportunity awareness events for small and emerging businesses, the authority teams up with Turner Construction Co. to present a construction management program. Offered in the spring and fall, it is held evenings two days a week for eight weeks and covers things such as construction law, accounting, safety and insurance needs. Another program, administered through Merriwether & Williams Insurance Services, offers bonding and financing assistance.

One of the first things small businesses interested in doing work for the airport should do is register online at SAN.org/smallbusiness. “That will get them set up to receive information on any work available in their trade,” says Cruz. After that, she encourages interested parties to participate in an opportunity awareness event or a monthly workshop. “It’s all free to them.”

Right now, she says, “We’re in the middle of a series of major improvements on the north side of the airport. There are more than $300 million in contract opportunities available.”

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