Sea-Tac Int’l Partners With AMAC to Support Diversity Measures

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
Mike Schwanz
Published in: 

From Aug. 21-25, 2018, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) will serve as the official host for the annual Airport Business Diversity Conference, the flagship event of the Airport Minority Diversity Council (AMAC). Airport officials are pleased with the strong registration numbers—and the opportunity to advance SEA’s long-standing goals of providing more opportunities to women, minorities, veterans and small-business owners.

“Hosting this event is a great opportunity for us to continue to strengthen our long-time relationship with AMAC,” says Lance Lyttle, SEA’s managing director. “We have had an excellent working relationship with AMAC over the years, and we share their goal in providing more business opportunities for women and minorities within all departments of the airport.”

“We thought this year’s theme, Inspiring Possibilities, was especially appropriate for our host city, Seattle, which is one of the most diverse cities in the country,” says Krystal J. Brumfield, AMAC president & CEO.  “It is also home to some of the most successful and creative companies in the world, such as Amazon, Microsoft and Starbucks.”


Project: Hosting 2018 AMAC Annual Airport Business Diversity Conference

Host Airport: Seattle-Tacoma Int’l Airport

Location: The Westin Seattle 

Number of Attendees: 1,000 (approximate)

Number of Exhibitors: 40 (approximate)

Key Benefits: Reinforces SEA’s strategic plan of increasing diversity; brings together stakeholders from all areas of aviation industry; educates local groups representing women and minorities about new opportunities available at airport due to renovation project.

Brumfield is pleased with the healthy mix of industry professionals expected to attend. “We will have many owners of women- and minority-owned businesses, as well as representatives of Fortune 500 companies, aviation, hospitality, travel and logistics, energy, retail, transportation, telecommunications, finance and banking. Federal, state and local government agencies also are represented,” she adds. 

The timing of this conference worked out well for the airport, because Sea-Tac is in the middle of a major renovation that will add approximately 50 new businesses in the Airport Dining and Retail (ADR) category. Many current leases also will be expiring in the next two years, creating more opportunities for newcomers. “We have asked AMAC to help us in recruiting for this ADR redevelopment program,” Lyttle says. “We have been working really hard to reach out to minority and small businesses to apply for leases.

“Hosting the AMAC conference is a way for our local businesses to get exposed to opportunities, not only at the airport but also with other airport businesses around the country. We reached out to local small businesses here in Seattle to let them know about AMAC, and encouraged them to attend this year’s conference as well as its other seminars offered at other times of the year,” Lyttle continues.

Airport officials worked closely with AMAC on all aspects of planning the conference, from suggesting speakers to helping plan social events. “Once AMAC asked us to host this event, we were very happy to oblige,” says Luis Navarro, director of the office of social responsibility for the Port of Seattle. Navarro also serves as the co-chair for the conference, along with Dawn Hunter, the senior manager of the airport dining and retail program. “Providing more diversity is one of the priorities in our Strategic Plan,” Navarro says. “We thought it would be appropriate for women and minorities not only from here but from all over the country to attend.

“Above all, the conference will provide the opportunity for people to get to know each other. A lot of business can get done through personal relationships,” Navarro adds.

PortGen Program Targets Many Categories

Besides the AMAC conference, the airport provides many opportunities for small businesses to operate on the property. The PortGen program (an acronym for Port of Seattle, Small Business Generator) is a series of seminars offered especially to owners and managers of small businesses, according to Lyttle. “We try to introduce people on how to do business with the airport. We target small businesses in the local area, as well as retail suppliers.”  

According to Navarro, a wide variety of topics are offered. “Some of our seminars target construction people and contractors,” he says. “We will bring in speakers from the airport’s procurement department to give insights on best practices on preparing a RFP. We often invite people who operate other small businesses, who provide valuable, real-world input. Legal issues are covered from speakers from the airport’s legal department.”

The airport is proactive in seeking attendees to these PortGen workshops. “We have a database list of nearly 1,000 people,” Lyttle says. “We narrow that down, and try to target certain groups for a given workshop.”

The PortGen workshops are limited to only 50 people, for a more personal atmosphere. If demand warrants it, more workshops on the same topic will be added, Lyttle explains.

SEA also is very bullish on promoting kiosks, according to Lyttle. “We have a kiosk program for small businesses. We will build them the walls, and offer them a six-month trial to begin. This offers the business owner a chance of starting out without a huge long-term commitment. If the business prospers, we eventually hope to sign them to a long-term lease,” he says. 

AMAC Conference Expands Seminars

The 2018 AMAC Conference is expected to draw approximately 1,000 attendees and 40 exhibitors. “We are very happy with the expected turnout, and with the quality of our workshops,” Brumfield says. “This year, we will offer more than 20 informative and inspirational workshops, featuring presentations from leading and subject matter experts. For the first time this year, we created four tracks, so attendees could focus on the subject areas most pertinent to their professions. The tracks are Concessions; Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC); Professional Development; and FAA/Government.

“Besides our workshops, we intend to release the results of a research study we conducted in partnership with the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE). We wanted to get the answers to several key questions, such as: Where are the jobs? Where are the opportunities? Earlier this year, we sent out the survey to about 200 airports, and are optimistic we will get a good response. We believe this study will be a valuable resource not only to our members but to many other segments of the aviation industry,” Brumfield says.

Although the annual conference is its biggest event of the year,  AMAC hopes to use the conference to encourage attendees to participate in several other educational programs it provides throughout the year. “We are really promoting management training through our AMAC Academy, which is a series of webinars open to members and nonmembers,” Brumfield says. “These sessions cover a wide variety of subjects. For example, we recently offered webinars on ‘Patents and Trademarks’; ‘Cyber Security’; and ‘Professional Development Training.’”

 The Seattle conference should complement many of AMAC’s core goals, Brumfield suggests. “This year’s conference reinforces our organization’s mission, which is to promote the inclusion of minorities and women in contracting opportunities and professional development throughout the aviation and aerospace industries,” she elaborates. “It also strengthens our value to the aviation industry—that we are the ‘go-to’ source for diversity questions within the profession. Both individuals and airports come to us for information. We maintain and update a job bank that lists specific jobs, and also provides a chance for airports to list jobs that are open.”

Above all, Brumfield believes AMAC’s annual conference will provide representatives from all segments of the aviation and aerospace industries an opportunity to meet face-to-face and get to know each other. “Getting people we represent (Minority/Women/Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (MWDBEs)) a chance to interact with airport operators, government officials and corporate executives is always a positive thing,” she concludes. 


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