Chennault looking to grow with help from voters

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It takes a lot of money to run Chennault International Airport and soon Calcasieu Parish tax payers will be asked to continue their support. Chennault officials say the return on that investment will mean more growth and more jobs.

Chennault Director Randy Robb explained that Chennault is set to ask Calcasieu voters to renew a 10 year 5.45 mills property tax. They hope to have it on the March 10, 2012 ballot. According to Robb it's been money well spent for the parish.

"About 232-million dollars a year in economic impact to the local community. The jobs that are created out there. They are quality jobs. They are generally high-paying jobs that we have out here," said Robb.

More jobs could soon be landing at Chennault. Airport officials are working to secure nearly $20,000,000 in state and federal funding to build what they're calling "Hanger H."

"What we are looking for is a very large hanger - about 112,000 square foot in size so that we can do multiple functions within that hanger. And what that should do is allow us to create 500 additional jobs out here at Chennault," said Robb.

Robb said the state is onboard. While legislators just passed money in the capital outlay bill, Robb said they'll have to do certain things on their part to get access to the money. Meanwhile discussion is still underway to prepare plans and specifications for and to advertise for and to open bids for the construction of Hanger H.

At this time Chennault is also in talks with the City of Lake Charles and McNeese State University to purchase land on Broad Street just west of Main Street. The property is priced at $686,000.

"It looks like we have a good appraisal on the property and we are going to use that as a runway protection zone," said Robb.

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