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Chamber of commerce touts economic benefits of airport improvements

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Posted at 5:31 PM, Oct 30, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-30 19:31:32-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Analysts say a good indication of the strength of our local economy is the ability to invest in our future, and that’s what the redevelopment of Salt Lake City International Airport represents.

The Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce released a report Thursday on the long-term economic impact of improvements coming to the airport.

In order to accommodate four million more travelers more efficiently and safely, they're updating the building, which is more than 50 years old. There will be a new terminal complex, parking, and rental car facilities.

“It's a vital part of our economy, it connects us to the rest of the country and the world,” said Natalie Gochhnour, who is the chamber of commerce’s Chief Economist.

Researchers from the chamber of commerce and CBRE believe the improvements could attract other airlines, and in turn give travelers more options.

“It's a hub airport, Delta, obviously, is hubbed there, that brings us more direct flights, more nonstop flights to more markets, a lot of employees in our town, and a lot of convenience for travelers,” Gochnour said.

But perhaps the biggest benefit the new and improved airport will bring is the addition of nearly 24,000 jobs.

“So far there’s only been about $66 million let out on contracts,” Gocnour said. “Ninety-eight percent have gone to Utah companies, so we have Utah construction companies, architectural firms, construction firms, that are landing these contracts, and it’s a good source of business for them and helps employ a lot of Utahns and feed a lot of families in the state.”

The project has an estimated cost that amounts to nearly $2 billion. The project will be funded through $400 million set aside by the airport and through gate and rental car fees as well as money from the federal government.

“We're getting this nearly $2 billion injection into our economy that is coming from the outside or from savings, and that will be a real benefit to the state over the next 10 years,” Gochnour said.

Construction is already underway, and the entire project is expected to be completed by summer 2022.