Airport spaces line up to receive assistance

HMSHost, part of an Italian multinational that markets itself as a provider of catering services to travelers around the world, has positioned itself at Bill and Hillary Clinton / Adams Field National Airport to be eligible for assistance federal pandemic available to small businesses.

Small businesses are eligible for more aid than large businesses under the latest pandemic relief plan passed by Congress.

HMSHost signed a 10-year contract in 2017 to operate food and beverage concessions at Clinton National, one of 120 airports around the world where the company has such agreements. HMSHost’s parent company is Autogrill SpA, which has a market capitalization of $ 1.8 billion and is controlled by the Benetton family.

At Clinton National and other US airports, HMSHost is required by federal rules to partner with socially or economically disadvantaged small businesses.

The US Department of Transportation has said it presumes certain groups are disadvantaged, including women, black Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans, among others. Airport concession companies that have no more than $ 52 million in gross revenue in the previous three years are classified as small businesses by the agency.

HMSHost has two business partners who are considered socially or economically disadvantaged small businesses under the rules. They are JQ Enterprises Inc., whose sole owner is Sheldon Poole, and RSI Group LLC, a Little Rock company whose President and CEO is Pamela Boyd.

The two companies each hold a 15% stake in the Clinton National concession contract with HMSHost as part of a joint venture in which they share profits or losses as well as capital contributions below the required percentages in the joint venture. – adventure.

The agreement between HMS Host, JQ and RSI is structured as a joint venture, but the contract with the airport only mentions HMSHost. The Federal Aviation Administration initially said it would treat the three companies as a joint venture and make them eligible as a small business, but then withdrew that directive, according to Bryan Malinowski, the senior executive at Clinton National.

On Tuesday, Malinowski recommended that the agreement with HMSHost be amended to include JQ and RSI. He told members of the Little Rock Municipal Airport lease and consultant selection committee that the new deal was not designed to help HMS Host but its minority partners.

Additionally, the amended deal would more accurately reflect the actual deal Clinton National has with HMSHost and its partners, Malinowski said.

“The divestiture of the joint venture is the right thing to do regardless” of whether the amended agreement will allow the concession partners to receive additional federal assistance, he said.

Under previous agreements, the HMSHost joint venture received relief totaling $ 57,916 from the airport. If the joint venture qualifies as a small business, it is eligible for an additional $ 436,666 in the third in a series of federal grants the airport has received to help it weather the pandemic.

The committee approved a separate set of recommendations to demand the reopening of all concessions in the coming weeks.

HMSHost was slow to reopen its offers at the airport, citing low passenger numbers and other difficulties.

Several dealerships, including outlets for Starbucks, Chick-fil-A and Chili’s, have reopened.

According to the recommendation, the Burger King outlet in the lobby will reopen on August 31, the River Bend Bar & Grill will reopen on September 30, and a second Starbucks outlet – in the baggage claim area – will reopen on October 15. The Hudson point of sale will reopen on September 1.

Clinton National has provided financial assistance to its tenants, including Host and Hudson. It is expected to receive about $ 40 million in federal pandemic aid.

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About Christopher Easley

Christopher Easley

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