March 2006
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Minority Businesses Take Flight on Fifth Runway Project
By Charisma Cannon

With the construction of the Fifth Runway – “The Most Important Runway in America” – many contractors have enhanced their reputations and reaped the financial benefits. Among them are the minority-owned businesses that have built up their small construction and engineering firms as a result of their participation in the creation of Hartsfield-Jackson’s Fifth Runway.

In 1972, then-Mayor Maynard Jackson developed a program during the first Airport expansion that called for the participation of at least 34 percent female/minority owned businesses on the project. Today, under the Hartsfield-Jackson Supplier Diversity Program, born from the $6.2 billion Hartsfield-Jackson Development Program, the Airport still holds strong to the tradition Mayor Jackson started by monitoring and reporting on minority participation, and the amount of construction dollars spent with them as subcontractors.

Joe Jackson, director of Hartsfield-Jackson’s Supplier Diversity Program, is proud of the standards the Airport has maintained. “We are extremely proud of the diverse make-up of companies we’ve had in the construction of the Fifth Runway,” Jackson said. “The construction of this runway is history-making in so many ways, and many minority companies will be able to say they played a major role in its development.”

More than $170 million has already been spent with female and minority businesses on the various sub-elements associated with the construction of Hartsfield-Jackson’s fifth runway. Those sub-elements include the runway’s fire station, the Federal Aviation Administration’s new air traffic control tower, trunk drainage system and the relocation of Sullivan and Riverdale roads.

Hartsfield-Jackson’s Supplier Diversity Program was developed in part to comply with a federal mandate that requires the participation of 20-29 percent minority businesses when a construction project involves federal dollars, but also because diversity in the construction of the Fifth Runway represents the diverse number of passengers the runway will transport through Atlanta. The runway will bring millions more international passengers to Atlanta, as well as tons of cargo from around the world; destined for other parts of the country. Hartsfield-Jackson’s General Manager, Ben DeCosta, recognizes that diversity. “Our country is growing more diverse every day,” said DeCosta. “Hartsfield-Jackson has an obligation to ensure that the diversity of this country is reflected in those companies we do business with.”

For more information on the Hartsfield-Jackson Supplier Diversity Program and Hartsfield-Jackson’s Development Program, visit

© 2006 Hartsfield-Jackson News. A Publication from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. All rights reserved.

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