Shovels will be in the ground at the Greater Sudbury Airport this summer as part of a new infrastructure expansion project designed to attract more companies and more jobs.
“The intent is to open doors to new businesses,” said Robert Johnston, CEO of the Sudbury Airport Community Development Corporation.
Announced in mid-January, the $3.3-million land development project is part of the airport’s strategic plan to open up land and attract new businesses.
“The mandate of our corporation is economic development and growth, and with this growth comes new jobs,” Johnston said.
Approximately 770 acres of ground and airside land remain open for development, and a recently completed land use plan shows the potential for 10 to 20 years’ worth of future growth.
The lots usually have 21-year leases with an option to renew.
The current nine-acre development will bring sewer, water and natural gas to the northeast quadrant.
A roadway will be built around the secondary runway for accessibility.
As well, security fencing, proper lighting, taxi-ways and aprons will also be developed.
Of the $3.3-million price tag, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation has contributed $1 million, with the airport chipping in $1.5 million.
Further applications have been submitted to government agencies for the balance, said Johnston.
One privately owned business currently setting up shop at the airport is Geotech Aviation, a division of the Aurora-based Geotech Ltd.
It is in the process of building a $2.5-million facility, and is anticipated to generate about 30 employees. The company performs electromagnetic geophysical aerial surveys for a variety of applications.
“As we open new lands and attract new businesses, we want more private businesses like Geotech to set up shop here,” Johnston said, who has received some interest about the future lots. “We want to be investmentready.
We want to have lands that are available for development so that when a company shows interest, we are able to respond to them very quickly.”
As the engineers complete their work, the project will go out to tender in April with a completion target by the end of 2011.
This is part of the continued evolution of the airport, which has seen constant change since 1952, when it served as a single landing strip for the Department of National Defence.
The 1,227-acre property now consists of two runways, an air traffic control tower, a terminal building and 25 serviced lots.
Commercial scheduled flights with Bearskin, Air Canada, Porter and Sunwing airlines have created an environment that promotes competitive pricing and service, which has resulted in significant growth for the industry.
Nearly two years after offering its first daily flight out in Sudbury, Porter Airlines will add a second flight by the end of April.
At its peak season, the airport is host to more than 300 full- and part-time workers consisting of airport staff, the Ministry of Natural Resources, Air Ambulance Service, Transport Canada’s security forces, fixedbased operators, private hangar developments, executive charters and courier services.
One of the more significant changes that propelled business forward occurred in 2004 when Johnston was seconded as CEO and the stewardship of the airport moved from a city council board of directors to a private-sectorstyle board of directors.
Strategic goals were developed, leading to expansions, new hangars and businesses.
“I think the business environment that has been created by the board of directors has been quite successful,” Johnston said. “Virtually every sector of our business — commercial, scheduled air services, land development, marketing, promoting and improving customer services — is at unprecedented highs.
We’re really bullish on the economics of the community going forward, which we think will reap the benefits.”