From the Republican:
The city has received a $1.85 million state grant to fund renovations and improvements at Westover Metropolitan Airport. The state Opportunity Relocation and Expansion Jobs Capital Program is providing $100 million in grants statewide to improve public infrastructure with the goal of promoting economic expansion and job growth.
The $1.85 million will be used by airport owner Westover Metropolitan Development Corp. for utilities improvements, increased capacity for hangar upgrades, the reconstruction of Hangar Drive, finishing upgrades to Industrial Park Road and nearly doubling airport parking spaces.
"It's very timely for us," said Allan W. Blair, president and chief executive officer of Westover Metropolitan Development Corp., yesterday. "We wouldn't have been able to do all this work without the grant."
The timeliness of the grant is tied to a discount passenger carrier, Skybus Airlines, that is set to start offering service on July 16. Skybus is the first regular passenger service at the airport since the late 1980s. Skybus will offer once-daily flights on Airbus A319 jets to Columbus, Ohio from the airport, which includes 188 acres in the civilian portion of Westover Air Reserve Base.
Mayor Michael D. Bissonnette said the grant, which is overseen by the state Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, was a joint application of the city, Westover Metropolitan Development Corp. and Skybus.
"It's a pretty significant piece of the airport puzzle," Bissonnette said. "This will solve the parking issue. It will also provide some infrastructure needs to the areas near the hangars."
State Rep. Joseph F. Wagner, D-Chicopee, made the grant announcement with other area legislators yesterday afternoon. "Not only is the civil aviation division of the Westover Metropolitan Development Corporation poised to take a giant step forward, but this will mean hundreds of new jobs for local citizens," said Wagner, chairman of the Joint Committee on Transportation, in a statement.
Blair said it's one of the largest grants the corporation has received over the years.
"This is really very important and helpful. It really spurs economic growth and job expansion," Blair said.
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