LOVE FIELD PROJECT RETURNS SIGNIFICANT
RESOURCES TO LOCAL ECONOMY
By Mark Duebner
Director of Aviation, City of Dallas
THE PARTNERSHIP FORMED
between the city of Dallas and
Southwest Airlines included the structure by which the Dallas Love Field
Modernization Program (LFMP) was
managed. Even though Southwest took
the lead on the project management,
the city had input into every decision.
This was critical because not only
does the airport serve multiple clients, but also because the newly constructed terminal would be owned
and operated by the city at the
project’s end. Many aspects of the
design would have long-lasting
impacts on operational costs, and it
was important that the city protect
the sustainability of the new facilities.
Operational integrity — the impact
to passengers, tenants, concessionaires and the surrounding community — was the
highest priority for both the city and Southwest in
order to ensure long-term success for both. All of
this had to be structured in such a way as to give
confidence to elected officials and federal agencies. By creating an efficient and effective platform
whereby everyone was able to provide input, the
partnership structure resulted in a true collaborative effort. This doesn’t mean it was easy, or that
conflict wasn’t involved, but when all the entities
involved felt that they had a seat at the table, we
were all able to reach consensus. Ultimately, this
model has proven that public and private can truly
form a winning partnership.
As any public sector manager can tell you, the
words “new approach” are very often the precursor to an attempt to overcome the obstacles associated with a typical publicly funded project.
Admittedly, public procurement is not exactly
the paragon of efficiency, but it does serve a
purpose. It is fair, transparent, inclusive, and
focused on finding the best value.
Cities, counties, and even airport authorities
have a responsibility to be accountable to their
communities, and while, not perfect, the public
procurement process does a good job of creating
opportunity for those often traditionally left out.
New companies often struggle to break into previous relationships, and often just want a chance
to compete, fair and square, for business.
When the city and Southwest Airlines began
developing the LFMP, it was of great importance
for any “new approach” to follow those same
goals and objectives, as well as to create an efficient way to deliver the project on time and at a
reasonable cost. As the program was developed,
it was clear that both parties needed to set out
the rules of the game, so to speak, in order for
the project to be successful. One key element
was to formalize the process by which the contracts would be procured, and the establishment of goals for Minority and Women Owned
Businesses to participate.
These goals and bidding procedures helped in
two significant ways. First, the project has had
almost no bid protests or controversy. Although no
one likes controversy, a large infrastructure project
easily can be stalled when the public loses confidence in its implementation. Second, more than
90 percent of the contracts have been awarded to
companies from Dallas, putting significant resources back into the local economy. A