Lakeshore News Tonight

Gary Airport Hopes Proposal Helps Business Take Flight

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December 9, 2013 — Hopes are sky high in Gary that a change in management might mean blue skies for businesses in and around the Gary airport.  Officials hope a proposal made today for growth at the area airport will be game-changing for the local economy.

The Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority is making steps to move the City’s airport under new management in hopes of making new business.

Today, members of an airport board committee got their first chance to present proposed terms they’ve negotiated with Aviation Facilities Company Incorporated (AFCO) to develop and manage Chicago’s third airport.

“This was the first opportunity for the full board to see the detail of the term sheet,” says James Cooper, Airport Authority Board Vice President. “From here, what will happen is that, each of the individual board members will review the detail of the term sheet and then present questions to the different advisers on the P3 committee.”

The committee calls the move a game-changing agreement for the city of Gary.

“We’ve never had a group with the wherewithal that the entities that are part of this group have, committing to invest $100-million over 40 years,” says Carrie Hightman, chair of the airport board’s Public-Private Partnership Ad Hoc Committee.

The terms negotiated also call for an investment of $25 million dollars in the first three years, $300,000 in workforce development over three years, and assurance that the City and airport will share future profits.

The committee says AFCO is set to work with Loop Capital and Chicago-based Guggenheim Securities to see the project through.

The terms of the agreement presented by the ad hoc committee today, include a goal of 30% local workforce participation.  Ad hoc members say the goal has always been growth starting with Gary’s own citizens.

“We said from the beginning that this had to benefit the citizens of Gary, and the region itself,” Hightman says, “and, we didn’t want to, and we’re not willing to create an arrangement where the benefits all went outside of the area.”

The committee has set incentives for hiring disadvantaged applicants, women, minority, and veteran-owned businesses.

Hightman says when the agreement plans take off, she hopes they will lift local profits.

Should the airport authority approve the terms, final contracts for management and development could be effective early next year.

By Hilary Powell


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