By Joyce Lobeck
Eckard Commercial Construction, a Yuma-area contractor, has been awarded a $4.5 million contract to build the Aviation Industrial Center at Yuma International Airport.
A groundbreaking ceremony is planned for the first week in November, said Rob Ingold, president of the Yuma County Airport Authority. Construction is expected to take about 10 months.
The center is the latest project to be developed within the airport’s Defense Contractor Complex off 40th Street. The 32,000-square-foot complex will include two aviation hangars with shared office and shop space for short- and long-term tenants to help meet the needs of defense contractors at Yuma Proving Ground and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma.
Airport officials estimate the project could create up to 80 highly skilled jobs and generate more than $1 million in private investment. “I’m very proud of this project because it will bring a lot of high-value jobs to our community,” Ingold said.
In August 2011, acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank announced that the airport authority was the recipient of a $3.8 million grant from the Economic Development Administration to help fund development of the Aviation Industrial Center (AIC). The airport is financing the remaining $1.2 million through 1st Bank Yuma.
The additional $500,000 is for the design, administration and oversight of the project as well as certain fees.
Chris Thompson of Patterson Thompson Architects was the project’s architect.
“We began working on the grant in February of 2011, with the help of the Greater Yuma Economic Development Corp.,” said Ingold. “A tremendous amount of planning and preparation has gone into this project over the past 18 months, so we are extremely eager to watch the AIC take form.”
As construction proceeds, the airport and its partners also will be undertaking a marketing campaign to attract tenants, said Gen Grosse, airport corporate accounts manager.
Over the past few years, the airport and its clients have invested over $20 million in basic airport infrastructure. This included more than $2 million to build the Pappy Boyington Hangar, which was immediately leased by NASA. Shortly thereafter, the airport designed the new $10 million hangar complex that is now occupied by Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Division.
“Our clients tell us that one of our most important capabilities is that our security is based on the military’s guidelines,” said Mark Workman, the airport’s director of operations.