Denver International Airport Sets Record-Breaking $742 Million in Contracts Awarded to Disadvantaged Business Enterprises

Nov. 22, 2023

Denver International Airport (DEN) today announced a record-breaking $742,307,800 million has been paid to historically underutilized businesses and Small Business Enterprise (SBE)-certified firms since 2021. That is an increase of 105% compared to the three years prior (2018-2020).

“We are proud of the work we have been doing to reduce barriers for small, women and minority-owned businesses,” DEN CEO Phil Washington said. “The numbers show that our work is making a difference and that DEN is providing opportunities for more businesses to share in our success while contributing to the economic health of our region.”

In federal fiscal year 2022, DEN also exceeded its federally determined business contracting goal of 27.6%. Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (ACDBE) achieved 31.95% for concessions. In addition, ACDBE concessions business revenue was the highest it’s been in the past six years, reaching more than $200 million in 2023 to date. 

“At DEN, we value equity, diversity, inclusivity, accessibility and sustainability in all aspects of our business, including through contracting with the business community,” Washington added. “As such, it is critical to the success of the city, the airport and the business community that we not only promote the use of small businesses and historically marginalized groups of people, but also make impactful changes to our procedures that will increase access to city contracting opportunities for all businesses.”

Some of the equity enhancements to the procurement process include:
• Added language to competitive solicitations that includes detailed information about DEN’s Equity, 
Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) requirements, including a new City Values Statement
• A required Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity Plan submission as part of proposals that will be scored and 
factored into each proposal’s final assessment
• An effort to promote greater diversity in the composition of evaluation panels
• New components of training for the evaluation panel participants to equip them to look for EDI 
sociocultural merits as they review and evaluate proposals
• Encouragement of broad and diverse participation in the procurement process, including an effort to 
encourage certified small firms to serve as primes as they seek out key partnerships for their proposals
DEN has received feedback from the small business community regarding barriers to doing business at DEN.

As a result of that feedback, DEN implemented the following outreach events:
• Taking Flight at DEN, a monthly meeting to share upcoming competitive opportunities allowing 
potential firms to ask questions.
• “Meet the Primes,” a monthly meeting that brings together all firms contracted as primes at DEN to
share local opportunities and information regarding how to prequalify with their company for a 
potential subcontracting partnershipDEN wants to ensure we share every opportunity and prepare small businesses for the best chance to succeed and create generational wealth.

To date in 2023, DEN has hosted 20 community outreach and engagement events specific to small business opportunities that have drawn a total of 1780 attendees:
• 29% of the overall attendees never submitted a bid or proposal to DEN 
• 49% of attendees identified as a certified small businesses
• 11% of attendees were non-certified small businesses looking to become certified.

As DEN continues to embed equity and make a meaningful impact within our community, this year the airport also launched a new program in partnership with the Colorado Department of Corrections and Bayaud Enterprises. DEN New Heights offers employment and work experience to individuals existing the justice system and transitioning into the workforce. Since April of 2023,16 of the 24 participants have attained fulltime employment (outside of DEN) following their work experience in the program. The program is now being expanded to increase participation. 

Alejandro A. Alvarez/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS