ORLANDO, Fla. – Kevin J. Thibault, CEO of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, hosted a fireside chat yesterday with U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for the Minority Business Development Agency Donald R. Cravins, Jr., focusing on minority and small businesses and their contributions to help local and global economies thrive.
“It’s encouraging to see a major economic generator like the Orlando International Airport, managed by the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, embrace diversity not only within its organizational ranks but also in its interest in working with minority business enterprises and underserved businesses,” Under Secretary Cravins said. “The Minority Business Development Agency’s ultimate mission is to expand access to what businesses need to grow: capital, contracts, networks and markets.”
“The Minority Business Development Agency is proactive in helping minority and underserved businesses be prepared for when opportunities come along,” said Mr. Thibault. “The Aviation Authority has nearly 40 years of commitment to nurturing minority and small businesses through various programs, so we look forward to this opportunity that gives every business a chance to become successful.”
During the morning discussion, attended by GOAA Board members Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, Board Treasurer Belinda Kirkegard and Congressmen Darren Soto and Maxwell Frost, Mr. Thibault and Under Secretary Cravins stressed the importance of collaboration. Other guests included local business leaders and representatives from several Chambers of Commerce.
The Aviation Authority’s largest construction project in history was Terminal C, which opened in 2022. There was an estimated $570M awarded for construction to small businesses and nearly 6,000 jobs were created. In addition, there were at least 130 small business construction subcontractors hired within Central Florida as a result of the project, reflecting support for minority partners.
Under Secretary Cravins shared that the MBDA, which recently became a permanent federal agency, had recently rolled out a number of initiatives, including a Capital Readiness Program, which launches incubators for emerging industries and socially and economically disadvantaged business owners.