WICHITA -- The City Council moves forward with a food vendor contract for the new airport terminal at the airport.
The plans for Mid-Continent, now named Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport, would allow two major companies, Chik-Fil-A and Dunkin Donuts to move in. It also makes room for Wichita’s River City Brewing Company.
Yet, not everyone’s anxious for the contract. Some say the plans lack diversity, despite the Federal Aviation Administration’s requirement that the facility have 4.5 percent of vendors that are Disadvantaged Business Enterprises, also known as DBE’s.
“Some places don't have the talent or the expertise to do what we do here in Wichita,” said Sharon Cranford of Wichita. “I am never happy with the minimum. We need to shoot for the best.”
Cranford said the city should push for a larger representation of local businesses and those represented by women or other minority groups.
Mayor Carl Brewer agreed. He was the only council member to vote against the plan, as he feared it didn’t stand behind local businesses as much as it could.
“We're making history building a new airport and we wanted to do this and we wanted to do this right,” he said.
Brewer feared the vote could create challenges later on, especially for one local business that’s pushed out with the new deal. Sarah’s Ice Cream and Bakery has been a fixture of the airport for 23 years, but will close.
“For 23 years, we are the mirror of the entrepreneurial spirit of the Wichita business community,” said Micale Habtermariam. His family owns the bakery.
However, Cranford said there is hope. She would like to see the council, chamber of commerce and the airport to partner up to work toward recruiting local businesses.
“I believe we can be the best, so we need to work out policies that bring us to that,” she said.
Other city leaders say because of the way the FAA has regulated this deal, that goal may not be possible.