Aqueduct VLT developer hires minority firms

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The company hired to build the Aqueduct video lottery terminal complex said more than a third of its subcontractors are minority- or women-owned businesses and it awarded three massive construction bids to local companies, which had been a demand from southeast Queens residents and elected officials.

Resorts World New York, the name of the VLT development, said it has met its goal on hiring MWBE — Minority Women Business Enterprise — businesses and that its main contractor, Tutor Perini, has awarded $45.8 million in contracts to minority- and women-owned business, which represent 36 percent of the construction work it has doled out.

The bidding process for the VLT contract was designed with the highest targets ever for MWBE businesses and required the winning bidder to hire at least 25 percent of contractors to minority- and women-owned businesses.

“Resorts World New York is fully committed to providing meaningful and substantial contractual opportunities for minority-, women- and locally owned business enterprises in the construction of our new facility at the historic Aqueduct Race Track,” said Resorts World New York President Michael Speller. “From the beginning, we have made MWBE and local participation on this project a top priority. I am confident these businesses will play a major role in helping us to build an outstanding institution that we hope will attract a clientele just as diverse as the enterprises that are constructing this facility.”

The VLT project is expected to create more than 900 jobs in entertainment, hospitality, security and food service while providing more than $300 million a year in revenue for the state, Resorts World New York said.

Henry Cannady, president of the African-American-owned and Queens company Cannady Security Inc., said he was “very appreciative of receiving this contract to provide around-the-clock security during construction at Resorts World.

“It is encouraging to have such a prominent company in the Queens community to follow through on its stated commitment to diversity,” Cannady said. “We hope other contractors will look to Resorts World New York and Tutor Perini as examples of how to responsibly award contracts in the future.”

The Jamaica branch of the NAACP held several protests outside the racing facility and demanded that the jobs be awarded to businesses that were located in Queens and owned by minorities.

Since Feb. 15, Tutor Perini, a firm that also built the Jamaica AirTrain station, has awarded about $135 million in subcontracts, including more than $50 million to Ozone Park companies, where Aqueduct is based.

The South Ozone Park company Five Star Electric was awarded a $19.2 million contract for electric work and WDF Inc., also based in South Ozone Park, was awarded a $6.8 million plumbing contract and a $25.1 million contract for heating, ventilating and air conditioning work, Resorts World said.

“We are just so excited that Resorts World New York is following through on its promises to Ozone Park businesses,” said WDF Inc. Chairman and CEO Larry Roman. “At a time when Queens so desperately needs revenue, it is a blessing to have such a great project for so many local businesses to work on. Ozone Park is home to some of the finest construction businesses in the world, and for that reason I have no doubt that Resorts World New York is going to be a first-class facility that will benefit the entire region.”

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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