Chennault International Airport outside of Lake Charles and its growing portfolio of tenants have quickly become a catalyst for industrial development and job creation.
As 10/12 Industry Report details in a feature from its current quarterly issue, Chennault is backed by strong community support, with local voters recently approving a 10-year property tax for economic development by a 2-to-1 margin.
George Swift, executive director of the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance in Lake Charles, says attracting potential business to the airpark has never been difficult. “They have certified sites, access to runways and are the geographic center between Mexico, Canada and the U.S.,” Swift says. “More importantly, they have a willingness to work with industry and to make things happen.”
Added to that is an estimated total economic impact of $6 billion since Chennault’s founding in the mid-1980s.
Job creation remains the 1,300-acre airport’s overriding goal, says Chennault Executive Director Randy Robb. “Our role is to create jobs and to level the ups and downs of the petrochemical industry,” Robb says. “We have some 1,500 people out here now. We would like to double that.”
Chennault has hired CSRS, a Baton Rouge-based engineering and planning firm, to attract potential developers for a new project that would increase the airport’s cargo-handling capacity. The proposed $257 million expansion would include construction of an air cargo facility on 220 acres now occupied by an adjacent golf course.
The plan is to secure a developer and start the project within a year. It will also include two 150,000-square-foot rail-served warehouses, four 75,000-square-foot aircraft hangars, a 200,000-square-foot light industrial park, a 250,000-square-foot business park, cargo-handling equipment, and roads and rail infrastructure.