For Full Story: Tampa Bay Business Journal
Article By: Veronica Brezina-Smith
The city of Lakeland’s state funding application for Lakeland Linder Regional Airport for a project that will attract new companies to the city has won support.
The city was one of six recipients announced in January for more than $18 million in funding from the $85 million Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, which was established by Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature last year. The fund is meant to support economic development projects that create jobs, enhance infrastructure or develop workforce training programs.
Lakeland Linder Regional Airport will receive $4.69 million to help develop two hangar facilities, expanding cargo operations and maintenance, repair and overhaul operations.
The project, dubbed the Development of an Intermodal Center at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport, will create 400 new jobs from aircraft maintenance, repair operations and cargo.
The airport originally sought $7 million from the fund to go toward the $40.6 million for building a 60,000- to 75,000-square-foot maintenance, repair and overhaul hangar and cargo warehouse.
“This is an opportunity to build repair hangars, which there aren’t that many available in Florida; it is also potential for air cargo. We believe we could run air cargo through this facility,” Airport Director Eugene Conrad recently told the Tampa Bay Business Journal. “The hangars are occupied, so for us to bring more aerospace jobs here, we need this.”
The funds would help secure an MRO operator; however, Conrad had said there were two MRO companies eyeing the Lakeland airport, making it critical for the airport to complete this project.
“The MRO will be critical to the ability of the airport to pursue air service and cargo activities,” the city wrote in its application.
The first MRO operator, which wasn’t disclosed, would establish operations in Lakeland and would operate P-3 aircraft. At least 50 high-paying maintenance jobs would be relocated from South Carolina, where maintenance is performed at a contractor’s facility.