EAST ELMHURST — The multibillion-dollar LaGuardia Airport renovation is getting a little Magic.
Former Lakers star Earvin "Magic" Johnson's well-funded infrastructure firm has signed on to invest in LaGuardia Gateway Partners, the consortium of companies tasked with rebuilding the airport once referred to as the "third world" by former Vice President Joe Biden.
JLC Loop Capital Partners, a partnership between Magic Johnson Enterprises and the Chicago-based Loop Capital, was formed in April 2016 to invest money in the country's infrastructure.
The announcement was made Tuesday at the official groundbreaking of the new Delta terminal at LaGuardia, a major portion of the airport's renovation.
"This investment represents really a significant shift in the state's [minority- and women-owned business] commitment, from firms providing goods and services so critical and so important for a project like this," LaGuardia Gateway Partners Chairwoman Jane Garvey said.
The company is the first minority-owned business to invest in a private-public partnership in state history, officials said.
JLC Loop Capital Partners will invest $10 million in the project, of the $200 million from other companies in LaGuardia Gateway Partners, officials said.
Johnson started his new venture with more than $1.3 billion raised in the first quarter of 2016, according to reports.
Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, praised the inclusion of Johnson's company, saying it sends "a message loud and clear that this state demands MWBEs have the opportunity to not only partner and compete on the front lines, but also in the boardroom."
The push for minority- and women-owned employees and investors began soon after the renovations were announced, as a group of ministers and elected officials threatened to pull support of the project if a minority-owned firm wasn't included with LaGuardia Gateway Partners.
Months later, Cuomo announced a MWBE recruitment initiative for the project.
The investment from Johnson did not sway one group that continued to express concerns over the firms involved in rebuilding the airport.
"While allowing minorities an investment opportunity in the rebuild of LaGuardia is a positive step, it does not diminish Mobilizing Preachers & Communities' concern that no Asian, Black or Hispanic firm has received a significant prime contract in the design/build or operations of this $4 billion project," said Dr. Johnnie Green, president of Mobilizing Preachers & Communities
He called on Johnson and others to remember it was action from business and civic leaders that pushed MWBE involvement.
"And to remember: there is a thin line between taking advantage of an opportunity and sanctioning behavior that is detrimental to our people," he added.
An email to Marlon Smith, a managing partner of JLC Infrastructure, was not immediately returned.
A rendering of the interior of Delta's terminal at LaGuardia Airport. (Courtesy of the Governor's Office)
At Tuesday's groundbreaking — which marked the first day of construction on the Delta terminal — the governor noted that the renovated LaGuardia marks a positive step toward improved infrastructure across the country.
"For decades this nation has done nothing, nothing," he said, noting that other countries around the world have sped past the United States in terms of development.
"Well today says it's a different day, my friends. We're going to build a new airport. It's going to be smarter, more efficient, more effective than ever before."
He also guaranteed the construction of the LaGuardia AirTrain, saying "there's no airport that works in a metropolitan area that doesn't have a one-seat ride to the airport, and it's about time New York did."
Cuomo did not mention the MTA, which he declared was in a state of emergency earlier this summer.