Networking event attracts contractors for airport expansion

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - By Jonathan Hardison

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - There are potentially hundreds of jobs on the line as part of the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport expansion. Tonight, local contractors got their first chance to see what it will take to land those jobs.

The airport held a matchmaking event Wednesday to give contractors a chance to look at what the project will need and to see if they want to bid on some of those jobs.

It had all the hallmarks of a junior high prom. There was snacks, little groups standing around, and some awkward get-to-know-you conversation. But instead of 7th graders, this matchmaking event was full of contractors checking out the airport's expansion plan and potential competitors to see if they might match up and bid on some of the work.

"We are expecting this to create a lot of jobs," said airport spokesperson Toni Herrera-Bast. "And the key is those teaming opportunities where smaller businesses, minority and majority businesses can team up to be part of this project because this project has a lot of different elements to it, so there are a lot of different needs."

Derek Montgomery, of Montgomery Electrical Contracting Services, said, "That's a lot of what people will do here is pair up with different companies and bring that buying power to the table to be able to get some of the contracts on a project like this."

Montgomery runs an electrical contracting company. He says more than happy to pair with other contractors if it means landing a part of the project's $193 million worth of work.

"For smaller companies like myself, it's paramount. We're happy to be here, we've already met some people so it's been a good event already, and I've only been here 30 minutes."

More than 5,000 construction jobs in Birmingham disappeared in 2009, meaning competition for this work will be intense.

"Competition is always very heavy in this industry, so just hoping to make the right contacts and we can get some things done," Montgomery said.

The project will include a new terminal, new security checkpoint, and new federal inspection station. It's expected to break ground and begin work in the first quarter of next year.

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