The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is working to keep its pledge to residents and community stakeholders as billions get invested into redeveloping airports in Queens and New Jersey – $23.7 billion to be exact – by opening information centers in the surrounding neighborhoods of these developments.

    On Friday, a ribbon cutting was held for the grand opening for the JFK Redevelopment Community Information Center, 144-33 Jamaica Avenue in Jamaica.

    The community outreach office will keep interested parties abreast of the $13 billion John F. Kennedy International Airport rebuilding project, according to Michael Scholl, Borough President Melinda Katz’s spokesman.

    The office is staffed with five locals from southeast Queens who will provide the community with access to resources and certification workshops, according to Scholl. Meetings with developers and entrepreneurs of Minority & Women-owned Business Enterprises will also be able to conduct face-to-face meetings at the center.

    “This is a distinct project because we not only did it with all our [elected officials], but we did it with all our community members also,” said Katz. “We have a task force of 50, 60, 70 people from the community who can get people’s opinions, take it into account, readjust the formula and present something different in every meeting. That takes a lot of work.”

    Councilman I. Daneek Miller, Borough President Melinda Katz, PANYNJ outreach coordinator Selvena Brooks-Powers, Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman and PANYNJ outreach coordinator Nantasha Williams. Photo by Naeisha Rose.

    Without the work of community leaders to ensure that the Port Authority worked with the residents and stakeholders in local neighborhoods, the work at the new center in Jamaica would not get done, according to Katz.

    The construction of the center in Jamaica was done mostly by local businesses.

    “We are working together to get employment for the community, second chance employment, we are getting people who are getting trained and applying for apprenticeship programs and getting a path to unionship from this neighborhood,” said Katz on the 9,600 direct jobs the redevelopment should bring to Queens and the 15,000 jobs total, including in construction.

    Not only does the Port Authority promise to 30 percent of investment will go to M/WBEs, capital access to small businesses, but it also plans on investing in education for the local neighborhoods surrounding the airport and to redevelop JFK in an environmentally friendly way.

    Two of the people leading the outreach team are Queens’ locals Nantasha Williams and Selvena Brooks-Powers.

    “This office was actually a market before – it was unoccupied,” said Brooks-Powers as she recognized seven of the local businesses in the area that had a part in developing the facility.

    Dorion Norton Electrical Contracting, L. Richards Plumbing & Heating Incorporated and Windsor Electric were some of the businesses that helped to fix up the facility.

    An office in Newark has already opened for residents in New Jersey, and an office near LaGuardia Airport is set to open later this year, according to PANYNJ.

    The Jamiaca office will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Wednesday and on Friday, and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, according to Scholl.

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