PROVO — A planned expansion at the Provo Municipal Airport could add up to 700 jobs and potentially bring more commercial airlines to the city.
Duncan Aviation, a business aircraft maintenance and repair company, will cover $50 million for the expansion project, while the city of Provo promises to provide funding for installation and construction of utilities and infrastructure for the project. The Provo City Council ratified a letter of committment this week for the expansion project.
The aviation service provider plans to add 220,000 square feet of maintenance facilities at Provo's 45-acre airport. The company will break ground during the first quarter of 2017, and the project is estimated to be completed by the beginning of 2019.
“This expansion will enhance Utah’s global presence, given Duncan Aviation’s unique corporate connections,” Val Hale, executive director of the Utah Governor's Office of Economic Development, said in a prepared statement. “Duncan Aviation is a well-respected, family-owned company that has invested in Utah for some time. They will continue to be a major reason Utah is no longer viewed as a ‘flyover state.’”
The maintenance complex will include large hangar spaces, office space and a paint facility. The paint hangar is designed to accommodate multiple aircraft at any given time, which will increase efficiency in paint and detail work.
"This will bring some fantastic jobs in," said Provo Mayor John Curtis. "The quality and number of jobs that Duncan will create in Provo will benefit our residents and surrounding communities in Utah Valley."
The expansion project is also expected to create jobs for up to 700 people in the next decade. These positions range from aviation engineers to machinists and managers.
"We've had a lot of great economic wins in the city," the mayor said. "I believe what's happening with the consummation of this is a really, really strong economic boost for our city."
Allegiant Air is currently the only commercial airline to fly in and out of Provo, but Greg Beckstrom, the city's public services director, said the expansion could bring in more commercial airlines.
Beckstrom said such a decision is "much more in the hands of commercial airlines" than in Provo's airport, but operators are trying to put the facility in the best position to be attractive and available for potential commercial airlines that are considering expansion.
"One of the things you're always looking for as a community is creating the opportunity to attract employers that are going to provide some good-paying jobs. And that's definitely being accomplished by the expansion," he said.
The expansion will increase airport services and allow more airplanes traveling from other airports to receive repairs and maintenance, according to Beckstrom.
"From an all around standpoint, we definitely see it as a positive," he said.
Duncan Aviation was previously approved for a tax incentive in 2008 but lost steam to complete the project due to the recession. Now, with the renewal of the project, Duncan Aviation may earn up to 30 percent of the new state taxes it will pay over a 15-year period in the form of a tax credit rebate, according to the economic development office.
Bill Prochazka, chief operating officer of Duncan Aviation’s Provo location, said he appreciates the city's long-term support, especially through its economic low in 2008.
"We survived. We hunkered down, and now we're ready to move forward," he said at Tuesday's City Council meeting.
The mayor acknowledged some of the economic challenges Duncan Aviation went through in 2008, when the market plummeted. But he said he is impressed to see where it is now.
“From the first meeting with Duncan Aviation representatives nine years ago, Provo City has been impressed with the caliber and quality of this great company,” the mayor said.
"Anybody that's rubbed shoulders with Duncan knows that these are just not ordinary people and an ordinary company," Curtis said. "This is a company that we are very proud to have here in our city."
The city plans to use Community Program Block Grants as well as tax increment financing to fund the project.
"I feel like we're following through on a commitment made years ago," Councilman Dave Sewell said. "I'm very excited about the plans for the expansion."
Duncan Aviation says it is the largest privately owned business jet support facility in the world, and fulfills the aviation needs of governments and businesses globally. The company maintains more than 20 facilities in the U.S. The Provo location will be the first full-service facility in the West, complementing facilities in Battle Creek, Michigan, and Lincoln, Nebraska.