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KCMO City Council committee decision on company to manage concessions at KCI terminal postponed

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Posted at 4:37 PM, Sep 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-22 18:14:59-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo — A big-ticket agenda item at the Kansas City, Missouri, City Council's Transportation, Infrastructure and Operations Committee meeting was whether to recommend Vantage Airport Group as the head of concessions at the new terminal of the Kansas City International Airport.

Vantage, a Canada based company, was recommended by the Kansas City Aviation Department last week.

“Everybody is interested in objective information about what’s the best value for the members of the flying public,” Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas said. “We are interested in what the best deal is for folks — what the numbers look like. That to me is what's helpful for us.”

The Vantage proposal states that 80% of the businesses at the terminal will be local, providing opportunities for small, women-owned and minority businesses. Representatives with the company announced they are focused on retaining existing employees and creating more than 1,000 jobs. In addition, the company will commit to a minimum wage of $15.

Like any proposal, some were for and others were against.

“They’re really working closely with all of these businesses to ensure their success,” Director of Marketing and Communications for City Market Sue Patterson said. “And the Vantage Group has an excellent track record in other cities.”

She appreciated the opportunity for Kansas City to highlight what makes the city and its people unique.

“I think airports are generally pretty boring except for a few that do that kind of thing — where you can really connect with and pick up on the points of interest in the city,” Patterson said.

But Emiel Cleaver, who attended the council meeting, had his reservations about the bidding process for Vantage Airport Group.

“I have a concern with the process of being kind of private,” Cleaver said.

Transparency was also a point of concern for Councilwoman Katheryn Shields and Mayor Lucas.

“I think the Aviation Department is committed to sharing that. Importantly, not just with us elected officials but with all of the members of our public,” Lucas said.

Heading into Wednesday’s meeting, another highly anticipated debate was whether or not to keep Chick-fil-A from the collection of restaurants. The Kansas City LGBTQ Commission was planning to propose the removal of the fast-food chain.

“Not only have they funded a lot of initiatives that have stopped the advancement of human rights, but this is also taking a slot that can go to a local Kansas City business,” Justice Horn, vice chair of the commission, said.

But before the commission took the podium, representatives with Vantage Airport Group announced that the fast food chain was already pulled because it did not promote an inclusive environment.

“If this is truly the community’s airport, then I wasn’t surprised that they listened,” Horn said.

The Transportation, Infrastructure and Operations Committee has decided to postpone the vote to recommend for another week. They have requested more transparency and information about Vantage Airport Group’s project plans from Aviation Director Patrick Klein.