Northwest Florida Airport announces plans for major project

Planning is underway for the Aviation Center of Excellence. (WJHG/WECP)
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG) -- Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport continues to grow, and it hopes to grow the community along with it.

"On a Saturday this summer, we're expecting about 9,200 people," ECP Executive Director Parker McClellan said.

"We've been working with multiple companies, domestically and internationally, that have an interest to be at our airport," Bay Economic Development President Becca Hardin said.

Planning is underway for the Aviation Center of Excellence. It has four projects including maintenance, aircraft refinishing, training, and education.

Hardin said the aviation campus will, "support the needs of the businesses and the community."

It will also create nearly 400 local jobs.

"Part of the airport's role, and the role of the community, is to grow the community. And we see this as an opportunity to create jobs," McClellan said.

The goal of the airport expansion is also to educate the next generation. Project Goodwrench is a partnership with Haney Technical Center. The center will expand Haney's Airframe and Power Plant program.

Although there's a clear plan in place, officials said the center is only at the beginning stages.

"It could be six months before we finalize all negotiations to be able to actually talk about who is coming to the community and announce the names of the companies," Hardin said

Also underway at ECP, a 7,000 square-foot addition to relocate gates 6 and 7, and expand holding rooms and loading bridges.

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