Kansas City International Airport failed to properly track participation of minority- and women-owned businesses on its $1.5 billion project to build a new terminal, according to an investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration. 

The agency claims In a Feb. 9 letter that the city also did not report a civil rights and retaliation complaint brought by a woman-owned contractor whose winning bid to work on the project was later rescinded. 

The FAA has given Kansas City 30 days to comply with minority business participation requirements or provide a timeline for when corrective actions will be completed.

“We expect the city to take immediate steps to correct the identified deficiencies, starting with proposed corrective actions and timelines for each finding,” the FAA said. 

The letter specifies various corrective actions such as training all existing direct contractors on Title VI obligations and processes, ensuring all direct contractors train their contractors and suppliers are trained on Title VI obligations and processes, and training Kansas City Council members on Title VI obligations. 

Chris Hernandez, director of communications for the city, said it is already working to address the issues the FAA identified. 

Construction of the terminal began in 2019 and is slated for completion in March 2023. Clark Construction, based in Bethesda, Md., designed and is constructing the new terminal. Kansas City-based Edgemoor is developing the new 39-gate terminal, a 6,300-space parking garage, a new dual roadway and other related improvements. 

Geoff Stricker, senior managing director with Edgemoor, contends that the company is exceeding participation goals for women and minorities, citing contracts worth $319.8 million, or 21%, of the project’s budget that have been awarded to minority- or women-owned firms as of January.

Lisa Garney, owner of Kansas City-based concrete supplier G2 Construction, disagrees with Edgemoor's assessment. Her company, in partnership with Denver-based ESCO Construction, had been awarded an $80-million contract for concrete work at the terminal, only to have it later withdrawn. Garney claims that the contract was rescinded after the Heavy Constructors Association of Greater Kansas City complained that the contract wasn't going to a local contractor. 

The contract was later awarded to St. Joseph, Mo.-based Ideker Inc. Paul Ideker, president of Ideker Inc., is also president of the HCA. 

Garney estimates her firm spent several hundred thousand dollars on equipment and other costs to earn the contract. 

“I put my heart and soul into securing this contract and I invested substantial sums to obtain [it] only to have [it] pulled away after fairly securing the award,” she said. “The award would have been a beacon for the inclusion of minorities and women in the project. Instead, the city attacked me as a woman-owned business to steer the contract to a political favorite.” 

Asked about her next steps following the FAA's letter, Garney told ENR “We are concentrating on the city's response to the investigation and weighing our options.” 

Ideker and HCA did not respond to ENR's request for comment.