Located at 98-12 Astoria Boulevard in East Elmhurst, the approximately 1,100-square-foot site will be a central place where residents and businesses can learn about jobs, business opportunities and training.
Last Thursday, Port Authority executives gathered with elected officials and community leaders to cut the ribbon on the new office.
“We really do recognize that in order to make progress and do these major projects, we really do need to respect and ensure that benefits are accruing to the neighborhoods around the area,” said Port Authority executive director Rick Cotton.
The $8 billion LaGuardia Airport redevelopment project already had a mobile office that hosted more than 100 events in 2019 alone. But the community office is the next step in building the airport “in consultation and discussion” with the community, Cotton said.
The Port Authority leader also announced last week that they will have a second round of four-year scholarships for local students to attend Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology.
Six students were awarded the scholarship last year, which includes not only a full ride, but also paid internships at the Port Authority and an opportunity to work in the field of aviation operations upon graduation.
Sharon DeVivo, president of Vaughn College, said in her 23 years at the educational institution, she has seen the ecosystem around aviation grow.
“There has never been a better time to be in aviation,” she said. “The job growth is projected for the next 20 years is really going to be incredible.”
DeVivo said Vaughn has been recognized as among the best in the nation in lifting students from the bottom 40 percent in income to the top 40 percent.
“What a great pathway aviation really provides to change families’ lives,” she said.
According to Cotton, the LaGuardia Airport redevelopment has so far awarded $1.4 billion to minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs). More than $450 million in contracts have gone to Queens-based businesses.
In the last round of hiring at new concessions in the new Terminal B concourse, more than 50 percent of new jobs created to Queens residents as well.
“We are committed to delivering and being measured, criticized or credited, but measured by what actually in the real world gets delivered to the community,” Cotton said.
Even the new East Elmhurst community office was built by mainly MWBEs and Queens-based firms, he said. It will be staffed by paid interns from LaGuardia Community College.
“It’s a symbol of what we’re all about,” Cotton added.
Assemblyman Jeff Aubry heaped praise on the Port Authority for its engagement of the community around the airport during the reconstruction project.
“You can tick down the lost of things the Port Authority said they would do, and they have accomplished,” he said. “That’s why I continue to support them and encourage them to continue this.”