Four Atlanta airport concessionaires whose disadvantaged statuses were questioned by the Federal Aviation Administration earlier this year - which CL columnist John F. Sugg discussed in a recent opinion column - should be allowed to keep their special certification, state officials have decided.
A spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation, which certifies disadvantaged firms, told CL last night that the agency officials determined Atlanta Restaurant Partners, Vida Concessions, MACK II, and Hojeij Branded Foods should not be stripped of their "disadvantaged" status. A full report on GDOT officials' findings is forthcoming.
City officials awarded all four minority firms lucrative spots in Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to operate restaurants during last year's overhaul of the concessions program. The special certification gave the firms an advantage in what was a contentious procurement process.
Companies that can claim that status are generally owned by women or minorities and must not exceed a cap on annual revenues. In addition, company executives' personal net worth must be below a certain limit.
According to the Saporta Report, the FAA plans to review the case and could appeal GDOT's ruling. The city had no comment on GDOT's decision other than to say that it's fully cooperated with federal and state officials and will continue to do so.
CL attempted to contact Jeff Dickerson, a spokesman for MACK II and Atlanta Restaurant Partners, for comment, but hasn't heard back. Dickerson told Fox 5's Dale Russell earlier today that the companies' executives feel "relieved" and "vindicated" and that they knew they did nothing wrong.
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