Queens Borough President Melinda Katz led several Queens lawmakers in lauding Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo following his announcement yesterday of the six winners of four-year full-tuition scholarships to Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology in a ceremony held to coincide with the opening of the new Council for Airport Opportunity LaGuardia Career Center in Corona.
The CAO’s LGA Career Center is located in a building operated by Elmcor, a social service agency based in Corona. The new office was made possible by $1.3 million in funding from the Port Authority and an additional $200,000 contribution from CAO. Neighborhood Housing Services of Queens is also a partner in the office.
“A critical part of delivering a new world-class LaGuardia Airport is ensuring the local community is included every step of the way,” Cuomo said. “I want to congratulate the winners of the LaGuardia opportunity scholarships and look forward to these future leaders helping build a modern, state-of-the-art LaGuardia that will fundamentally transform New York for generations to come.”
The partnership with Vaughn College, located just a stone’s throw from LaGuardia Airport, provides six incoming freshmen full four-year scholarships starting with the 2019-2020 academic year. The scholarship program is part of the Governor’s continuing effort to provide opportunities for local communities to share in the economic benefits of LaGuardia Airport’s ongoing redevelopment program.
“For the $8 billion overhaul of LaGuardia Airport to truly be successful, we must dedicate ourselves to ensuring that new employment and contract opportunities are filled by Queens residents — boosting both the efficiency of the airport and the economy of the surrounding neighborhood,” said Katz.
“The opening of the Council for Airport Opportunity LaGuardia Career Center at Elmcor helps advance that incredibly vital mission. Fostering the development of our borough’s future leaders in aviation is also a crucial step toward operating state-of-the-art facilities like the new LaGuardia Airport, and we congratulate the six dedicated Queens student scholarship winners who will no doubt flourish at Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology,” she added.
The future permanent LaGuardia redevelopment community office in East Elmhurst will look to build on initiatives that, to date, have resulted in the issuance of nearly 900 contracts as part of the redevelopment valued at more than $1.23 billion to certified minority-and women-owned businesses. It also will build on the nearly 400 new hires for jobs at the airport’s new Terminal B concourse, which opened in December 2018, with 55 percent of those hires being Queens residents. This new community office will be in addition to a new CAO office at Elmcor.
Hiring local residents is just one component of the overall effort by the Governor, Port Authority and airport partners to increase wages and opportunities for those already working at the airports or seeking potential employment there. In September 2018, the Port Authority adopted the highest minimum wage target set by any public agency in the country, providing as many as 40,000 airport workers a path to earning at least $19 an hour, to be phased in by 2023.
“I congratulate the Port Authority, Vaughn College, the Council for Airport Opportunity, and the Governor. Local hiring, scholarships for students, career development and Minority- and Women-Owned Businesses certification are all important steps in giving our neighbors the tools to drive economic development in Queens,” said State Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights).
The new policy will benefit the traveling public by reducing staff turnover and providing an experienced, well-trained and motivated workforce that can better assist in responding to an emergency, identifying security issues, operating equipment safely and providing experienced customer service.
“As an elected official, my number one priority is ensuring the success and growth of my constituents. These scholarships will do wonders for Queens residents while enabling them to contribute to the new world-class LaGuardia Airport. I congratulate the winners of these scholarships and thank Governor Cuomo and Port Authority for their continued dedication to the Queens community,” said Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubry (D-East Elmhurst, LeFrak City, parts of Corona, Woodside, Jackson Heights, Elmhurst) said,
These improvements come as the region’s airports continue to handle record passenger volumes. At LaGuardia, which has remained fully operational while the entire airport is being rebuilt, annual passenger volume grew in 2018 by 2.3 percent to 31.1 million, the most in its history. The airport experienced its single-day record for passenger volume on Thursday, April 18, as 59,698 travelers passed through checkpoints.
Governor Cuomo first unveiled the vision for a comprehensive redevelopment of LaGuardia Airport in 2015, with the project breaking ground in 2016. Upon completion, the new 2.7-million-square-foot airport will be the first new airport built in the U.S. in more than 25 years. Overall, LaGuardia redevelopment is expected to create a combined $10 billion in direct economic activity and $2.5 billion in wages over the life of the project.
“I am so proud of these six remarkable Corona and East Elmhurst students who earned the Port Authority/Vaughn College Scholarship. With these scholarships and the promise of job placement at Port Authority upon graduation, I have no doubt the future of this agency is in capable hands,” said City Council Member Francisco Moya (D-East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Corona, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Lefrak City, LaGuardia Airport).
“I also want to congratulate the Council for Airport Opportunities on opening its new Queens office. Its commitment to local hiring and partnership with our community, especially with Elmcor, has been nothing short of commendable. These efforts ensure that as LaGuardia undergoes significant improvements, the lives of community members most directly affected by these changes improve alongside it.”