By AUSTIN MONTGOMERY
ROCKFORD — Stateline Area officials are touting the success brought by a Chicago-Rockford International Airport project that is expected to bring more than 1,000 jobs to the area.
New expansion projects at the airport, from passenger to cargo changes, have been supported largely by federal funding since 2013 with the help of federal representatives
U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Moline, and U.S. Sen. Dick Durban, D-Ill.
“We will continue fighting for these federal investments that help the airport keep up with growing demand and boost the regional economy,” Durban said.
Earlier this month, the airport celebrated the start of construction of a 120,000-square-foot cargo facility to accommodate LGSTX Services Inc., a company connected with online retailer Amazon’s massive shipping and logistics effort. From 2016 to last year, the airport has seen a 50 percent increase in cargo — equating to nearly 1.4 billion pounds of cargo being processed at the airport.
Work on a $3.5 million ramp for cargo airplane parking is also expected to open this fall, with construction starting earlier this month.
The project is valued at $10 million and is anticipated to add 400 new jobs. Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara said the airport has added more than 1,000 jobs in the last year, and is projected to add an additional 1,000 jobs in the year to come.
“The Chicago Rockford International Airport is truly a differentiator for our City and region,” McNamara said. “As the world economy continues to transition to one in which many American purchase goods online, these goods need to be delivered and our airport is uniquely located to take advantage of this transition.”
Winnebago County Board Chairman Frank Haney said the airport was one of the county’s greatest assets.
“I am not sure of a public-asset that is being more effectively leveraged to drive primary job growth and economic development anywhere in the state of Illinois or the Midwest than our airport,” Haney said.
Haney said of the anticipated job growth, “That is just remarkable and serves as an example of what is possible when an organization has a big vision and brings a multitude of partners together to achieve that vision.”
McNamara said the growth at the airport was a “true illustration of collaboration” between local, state and federal agencies.
“It shows that when the Federal government, State, City, and County have one mission and are aligned, tremendous development can occur,” he said.