By ELLE MOXLEY
Burns & McDonnell will employ the first ten graduates of a new career and technical education program on the Kansas City International Airport project – if the city council selects their proposal, that is.
At a symposium for minority-owned businesses on Tuesday, the local engineering firm announced a new partnership with Kansas City Public Schools’ Manual Career and Technical Center to overhaul the construction trades curriculum to focus on commercial rather than residential building.
“We are going to be in a building boom in this city,” Burns & McDonnell CEO Ray Kowalik said at a news conference. “We don’t want people coming in from all over the country taking those jobs. We want to educate the people we have here, give them the skillsets and put them to work in our great city.”
Ramin Cherafat of McCownGordon and David Disney of JE Dunn – both part of the Burns & McDonnell “KCI HOMETOWN Team” vying to build a single-terminal airport – also pledged their support for the construction technology partnership.
“What we’re doing here is giving opportunity to the future generations of Kansas Citians,” Cherafat said.
Of course, there’s no guarantee Burns & McDonnell will be awarded the airport contract. Three other firms submitted proposals after the Kansas City Council opened up the bidding process.
But that hasn’t stopped Burns & McDonnell from promoting its plan. They’ve been running ads during Royals games featuring George Brett and pamphleting neighborhoods with their pledge to work with women- and minority-owned businesses in the Kansas City area.
A special group of city councilmembers and airport officials is reviewing all four proposals this week and is expected to make a decision later this month.
Then the airport question goes to voters.
Elle Moxley covers schools and politics for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.