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'I feel amazing': Local businesses celebrate after Vantage Airport Group wins KCI concessions bid

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Posted at 6:16 PM, Oct 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-07 19:16:44-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With a 9-2 vote, the Kansas City, Missouri, City Council passed the motion to make Vantage Airport Group the head of concessions at the new Kansas City International airport terminal.

Conversations around finances, rent, price of goods and transparency in the bidding stage all delayed the process of passing the bid. Even down to the last minute before the vote, there were still disagreements about whether Vantage Airport Group would be the right course of action.

“I did not have the opportunity to ask questions to understand actually the items that were brought before us,” Councilwoman Kathryn Shields said.

Shields has been vocal over the last few weeks about the validity of due process during the bidding stage. A motion was put forth by Shields at the council’s Thursday meeting to send it back to committee for reassessment. The motion failed in a 10-2 vote.

“We showed every bit of the homework that was done by the selections committee, so to say that there is not transparency, I think is completely false,” Councilman Eric Bunch said.

Councilman Dan Fowler abstained from the vote due to concerns about a possible conflict of interest. Even still, after further discussions around whether enough information and discussions were shared, the motion to award Vantage Airport Group passed.

“I feel amazing. It’s been several months working so hard to be here today,” said owner of Taste of Brazil, Marco Rabello.

Vantage Airport Group has been a frontrunner in the eyes of many Kansas City locals. The Canada-based company is proposing 80% of its concessions will be locally-owned. Their focus is on small, women-owned, minority businesses.

“It just speaks to the volume of Kansas City and what’s important and how our community is really shaping and embracing diversity,” said Thalia Cherry, CEO and founder of Cherry Co. “For the Vantage corporation to actually create a fund, specifically for minority businesses that have that access and opportunity, is really unheard of.”

Cherry said she sees this as an opportunity for the city to historically set a new standard. After two years of weighing all her options, she knows it is the right choice.

“They’ve been honest and forthright with all of the information and financials. And for us, from a factual standpoint, it’s been an incredible experience,” Cherry said.

Vantage Airport Group said it will retain existing employees and commit to creating 1,000 more jobs. They estimate the new concessions at the terminal will generate $1.5 billion over 15 years. The terminal is set to open early 2023.