Airport concessionaires to keep disadvantaged business status, state says

Four airport concessionaires whose “disadvantaged” status for obtaining government contracts raised flags for the federal government will retain their certification based on a state review of their cases, the Georgia Department of Transportation said Thursday.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it will review all documents from GDOT’s decertification hearings before deciding whether to appeal to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The “airport concessions disadvantaged business enterprise” certification gives firms special consideration for receiving contracts, as agencies set goals to award a certain percentage of contracts to disadvantaged firms.

The FAA sent memos in August directing GDOT to begin the process of removing the disadvantaged business certification from four concessionaires — Hojeij Branded Foods, Atlanta Restaurant Partners, Mack II and Vida Concessions. Those firms won contracts as disadvantaged businesses in Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport’s restaurant overhaul.

The FAA wrote in the memos that Mack II’s and Hojeij Branded Foods’ records on file lacked sufficient evidence showing each firm’s owner fell below a $750,000 cap on personal net worth, and it called into question the control of Atlanta Restaurant Partners and Vida Concessions by disadvantaged individuals.

GDOT held decertification hearings in November.

“The hearing officer did not believe that evidence supported decertifying them,” GDOT spokeswoman Jill Goldberg said.

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