It's been a quarter of a century since legislation was passed allowing an old, abandoned air base in Lake Charles to be used for economic development: It's now the Chennault International Airport and there's yet another development there expected to mean jobs for the future.
Jane Dufrene is the President of the Chennault Airport Board. She told a crowd gathered for the groundbreaking, "In the 25 years we have been here, the economic impact of our airport has been five point five billion dollars, with a B."
And the economic development at Chennault International Airport continues with a new multi purpose building for Northrop Grumman-- as they break ground local business and government leaders applaud the community team effort and what it means for the future. Said Police Jury President Guy Brame, "The Chennault Authority is constructing a multi purpose building to meet the needs of Northrop Grumman and will also open the doors to future similar programs like the Joint Stars program. Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach: To build a new building that's not only going to add new jobs but offer security for jobs already existing is really incredible."
The state pitched in a quarter million dollars of capital outlay funds to help build a facility that will cut back on work having to be sent out of state. Senator Willie Mount said, "We want to bring it home so some of those activities that currently Northrop Grumman has out sourced will be coming to, in the very near future to Calcasieu Parish and Southwest Louisiana."
One of the best things about the project is that it paves the way for future development. Explained Northrop Grumman Site Manager Kevin Mitchell, "To ensure that we give our customers the products they need on time, we need to have the capabilities in house where we can rapidly respond to the demands of the aircraft we're building. Having this facility will allow us to respond very quickly and also with first line quality. So the strategic value of it is unparalleled with any other value."
Former Mayor Ed Watson was one of those working toward economic development at the abandoned air base when it was only an idea back around 1986. He's amazed how far they've come. "This is absolutely phenomenal. It's a wonderful day for me to be here and experience with all these current politicians and people that make things happen and I just think it's wonderful, a 25 year dream and I'm glad to be here."
The project is expected to be complete in the first quarter of next year.