The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey announced Friday that it has passed a huge milestone at the World Trade Center, where it has now awarded a record $1 billion in contracts over the past five years to minority- and women-owned business enterprises, or MWBE.

That MWBE total, which represents nearly 17% of all World Trade Center-related contracts, is the most that any Port Authority project has ever generated. The spending has generated 2,417 jobs for local small businesses, and more than $1.3 billion in economic activity. The 200 MWBE contracts have gone to construction, architectural and engineering projects, as well as goods and services procurement.

"Creating jobs during these tough economic times is critical to the region's economic stability," said Bill Baroni, the Port Authority's deputy executive director, in a statement.

Among the largest contracts to date was one won by A&A Industrial Piping Inc. The Fairfield, N.J.-based outfit landed a $49 million deal to supply and install a heating ventilation system at the World Trade Center transportation hub. Meanwhile, Bronx-based Eaton Electric Inc. received $22 million for services at 1 World Trade Center, and Brooklyn's Park. Ave. Building and Roofing Supplies received a $1.4 million nod to supply plumbing and building materials for the Sept. 11 memorial.

"These groups typically get shut out of large publics works projects, which go to large companies that have large resources," said a spokesman for the Port Authority.

Patrick Foye, who began his role as executive director of the Port Authority in October, has made establishing jobs for minority- and women-owned businesses one of his goals, said the agency's spokesman.

"Encouraging diversity, including among vendors we do business with, is an important goal for the Port Authority as part of the leadership role we must play in our region's economic development," said Mr. Foye, in a statement.

In his State of the City address on Thursday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said one of his objectives is to increase opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses. "We'll create a new incubator that will offer foreign entrepreneurs the tools and legal support they need to develop their businesses here," he said.

Last month, the Port Authority announced that it would devote $2 billion of its $3.6 billion capital budget in 2012 toward the World Trade Center project, a decision that quickly drew protests from some circles. The Automobile Association of American, for example, insisted the agency should be using the money to fund more roadway projects. The remaining $1.6 billion in the Port's budget will go to fund work at airports, bridges and other properties.