Passengers and pilots of private, corporate and charter aircraft flying to and from Laramie soon will see an attractive, state-of-the art “front door” to the city as a result of an unprecedented public-private partnership.
Construction is expected to begin in the next few weeks for a new $2 million general aviation building at Laramie Regional Airport. It will replace the current general aviation terminal that is more than 60 years old.
“We’re excited to move ahead with a project that will significantly enhance our airport facilities and create an extremely positive first impression of the Laramie community,” says George Krell, chairman of the Laramie Regional Airport Board. “We wouldn’t have the opportunity to build such an impressive facility without the support of outstanding public and private partners.”
Funding for the project comes from a Wyoming Department of Transportation aeronautics grant ($777,000); Laramie Regional Airport cash reserves ($278,000); the University of Wyoming Foundation, including the McMurry Foundation ($395,000); economic development recapture funds from Albany County and the city of Laramie ($100,000 each); consensus grant funds from the State Loan and Investment Board through city and county governments ($200,000); the Evans Family Trust ($50,000); First Interstate Bank ($25,000); and the Guthrie Family Foundation ($20,000).
The airport board continues to work with private, corporate and governmental organizations to secure additional funding.
Plans for the new building include flight-planning rooms, map rooms, a lounge area, a conference room, upgraded bathrooms and a kitchen. GH Phipps Construction Co. of Wyoming is the general contractor. The project is scheduled for completion in March 2015.
Airport Manager Jack Skinner says the new general aviation building has been designed to connect architecturally with UW’s new Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center, which will open this fall on the UW campus. Both facilities will serve as a “front-door” function for visitors to the community, and it makes sense that the facilities are visually connected with common design elements, Skinner says.
UW aircraft, pilots and passengers — along with visitors to the university — will be major users of the new airport facility.
“The university is proud to be one of the many partners who have contributed to the new airport facility,” says UW President Dick McGinity. “We want those who visit our community and our campus to see what a first-class place this has become, and this project is another important step toward accomplishing that.”
One of the university’s major donors, Mick and Susie McMurry of the Casper-based McMurry Foundation, say they were happy to step up when they learned the project was in need of additional support.
“It’s important for Laramie to have a good airport, not only when it comes to safety but also to provide a good first impression for visitors,” says Mick McMurry, who began flying to and from Laramie Regional in the 1960s with his father. “This project will make things better for everybody.”
Laramie City Council member Andi Summerville, the council’s liaison with the airport board, expects to see a long-term economic benefit from the new airport facility, as it will “help to enhance our first impression and memorability to visitors and potential investors in our community.”
“Along with the UW Gateway Center, Laramie is going to get a great chance to show off what we have to visitors,” Summerville says. “Projects like these are pivotal to continued economic growth and business recruitment. It was important for the City Council to step up to the plate financially to show the community that it is a team effort to continue to develop and maintain our critical economic infrastructure as well as be a good steward of our future growth potential.”
Albany County Commission Chairman Tim Sullivan says the new facility will be a major improvement for the community.
“The commissioners consider the airport basic infrastructure and, in this case, it has been neglected to some degree,” Sullivan says. “It’s great that the city, the university and private donors stepped up to do this. It will be a win-win for everybody.”
Laramie Chamber Business Alliance President and CEO Dan Furphy, who played a major role in securing funding from local governments, says the project demonstrates what can be accomplished when public and private entities collaborate to tackle important community issues.
“We’re grateful for all who have contributed to help Laramie’s airport become a real showpiece for the community,” Furphy says. “We’re all excited to see the finished product.”