Chennault prepares for more expansion, including jobs

Chennault expansion

Chennault International Airport Authority is producing more jobs yet again. They'll be adding a new hangar soon, and it's expected to bring hundreds of permanent jobs to southwest Louisiana.

Several projects are in the works at Chennault right now, but one is now within reach. At Thursday's committee meetings, the board passed approval for Hangar 'H,' a brand new state of the art facility, necessary because both Northrop Grumman and Aeroframe are growing.

Just last month Chennault and Northrop Grumman celebrated the opening of a new multi-purpose facility, and now even more major expansions are on the horizon. Construction on the new will begin in just twelve weeks. Executive Director Randy Robb says the facility is needed.

"We have an expansion both from Northrop Grumman and from Aeroframe here, both are expanding," said Robb. "Both want to have additional projects that bring additional jobs here. They can't bid them out until we have more room, because we're full to the brim."

It's a state of the art 112,000 square foot hangar. But Robb says when it's finished in 18 months, it's looks will be deceiving.

"Because of the clear span and the doors we have in there, we can put four airplanes in this size hangar that you'd have to have say 150,000 square foot hangar in the old days," said Robb.

Also in the works, a federally funded seven million dollar wider taxiway, to be used as an alternate runway.

"That will allow us to close down the main runway for a little while. It will allow us to expand and keep the traffic moving and all the people employed while we work here at the field," said Robb.

Robb says working with the state, parish, city and congressional delegates is what's important.

"Absolutely critical," said Robb. "If we're going to support all their initiatives and goals, and we continue to do the job creation work that we're doing, then it's very critical."

He says even if residents don't directly feel the impact, everyone reaps the benefits.

"The economic impact of some place like Chennault is about $142 million a year," said Robb. "If you were to take that away, can you imagine what would be happening around here? But instead of taking that away, we're adding to it along with the other people, the alliance, the city, the parish, all those guys together. It's this strategic partnership working that's absolutely magic."

Chennault's fiscal year ends this month so next year's budget will be approved at the next meeting.

One of the first things Chennault does at the start of their fiscal year is donate money to both Southland Field in Carlyss and DeQuincy Industrial Air Park to keep those airports up and running for the community.

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