Community members interested in discussing disability accessibility issues met with Tampa International Airport staff on Friday, November 4th, to learn about the upcoming Main Terminal Modernization Project.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott on March 5 hosted a news conference at Tampa International Airport to announce $194 million in state funding for the Tampa Gateway Center, the airport’s flagship project of the 2012 Master Plan.
Airport CEO Joe Lopano, FDOT secretary Ananth Prasad, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, County Commissioner Victor Crist, County Commissioner Mark Sharp and Board Chairman Robert Watkins, joined Gov. Scott for the announcement before a slew of news cameras and a roomful of airport supporters.
“This critical investment of $194 million in TIA not only helps make it one of the world’s premier airports, but it also increases the passenger capacity and creates jobs for Florida’s families,” Gov. Scott said. “We are investing a record $8.8 billion in transportation improvements, which will enable Florida’s world-class transportation system to be a global hub for trade and commerce. Florida’s airports continue to expand because we are creating an environment where business can grow and create jobs and opportunities for future generations.”
The Gateway Center funding is the largest amount ever allocated by the Department of Transportation for Tampa International.
Lopano took the podium with great enthusiasm and a fist pump to celebrate the historic day.
“Yes!” Lopano said. “This is a great day, and I have never been more proud to be a part of a team than I am right now. Our community has come together to speak as one voice like never before and we will make Tampa Bay the thriving tourism and business center that it is destined to be.”
Lopano thanked the representatives from the many business and tourism development partners in attendance including members of the Economic Development Corporation, local Chambers of Commerce, and the Visitors and Convention Bureaus.
The organizations have traveled along with airport staff as a dedicated team working to recruit new airlines and promote the interests of Tampa Bay, celebrating recent successes with service to Panama and Seattle, service development that Lopano credits as the catalyst for the expansion program.
FDOT Secretary Prasad said the project, which is expected to bring more than 9,000 construction jobs and more than 1,100 permanent jobs to Tampa, is a good investment for the state.
“The aviation industry, and this airport, is a key component of our overall transportation system and today’s announcement is truly exciting news for the Tampa Bay region and the state of Florida,” Prasad said. “Governor Scott’s investment to expand the capacity of this airport will strategically position Tampa International Airport and the region for decades to come.”
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who has been traveling across the globe in recent months to attract new businesses to the area, says that this project is a part of that mission and also creates jobs close to home.
“Infrastructure matters. I can’t think of any greater investment that one could make in terms of our economic development than the expansion of this facility. Infrastructure means jobs and opportunities. Those 9,000 workers, who will be employed as a result of this funding, will have a better life because of the decision made here today,” Buckhorn said.
Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist, recognized the Aviation Authority’s two former chairmen, Al Austin who served on the board for 12 years until 2011 and the late Steve Burton who was appointed in 2009 and served until he passed away in April 2013. Crist acknowledged the two leaders for their tenacity and support for expansion throughout their terms of service and their historic roles in cementing the prosperous future for the airport.
Continuing the message of the job creation that the airport project will bring to Tampa Bay, Gov. Scott recognized local businessman and lifelong Floridian, Julius Davis, CEO of VoltAir Consulting Engineers. Davis’ company will be working on the Gateway project and he has already begun hiring new employees and expanding his business in preparation for the project.
Current Aviation Authority Chairman Robert Watkins concluded the program by thanking the community for their support and feedback that was essential throughout the master plan planning process. Watkins acknowledged the time and effort that was dedicated to reaching out to the community and giving everyone an opportunity to provide input on the future of the airport.
“We know that the Tampa Bay community loves its airport and everybody here is going to make sure that we keep it that way,” said Watkins.