Local businesses seeing large boon from Airport construction

(June 11, 2015) - Morrow Steel’s roughly $4 million contract on Tampa International Airport’s historic expansion is a large job for the nearly four-decade old Zephyrhills-based fabricator and erector. And that means more local jobs and spending.

Steel worker walking on curved steel beam at Tampa Airport

The company has hired 15 workers to help install roughly 1,000 tons of structural steel on the east side of the Main Terminal, forming the skeleton of Tampa International’s new outdoor terraces. They’ve added four additional shop workers and three office staff due to the high number of successful bids, including Tampa International, in recent months.

The increase in sales also means significant spending locally: Morrow recently put in an order for nearly $1 million in steel from Kloeckner Metals in Tampa.

“The Airport project is pouring money into the construction industry all around the Tampa Bay area,” said Eric Lawson, a project manager with Morrow Steel, which is a subcontractor of Skanska USA Building. “Every subcontractor in this area knows that there is a lot of work going on at the Airport.”

He noted that the project has a wide impact on everyone from contractors and direct subcontractors to material suppliers and rental companies.  “It’s a snowball effect on the whole local economy,” he said.

Morrow Steel is one of more than 100 different companies headquartered in the Tampa Bay area who are working on Tampa International’s expansion. That number is expected to grow as the $953 million project continues to ramp up and more packages of work are awarded.

Businesses all across central Florida are seeing benefits. There’s acoustical ceiling carpenters from Oldsmar and truckers from Odessa. Sod layers, surveyors and concrete cutters from Clearwater. Engineers, designers, electricians, roofers, painters and fence makers from Tampa.  

“The Airport and its design-builders want to spread the wealth around and involve as many local companies as we can on this expansion,” said Al Illustrato, Vice President of Facilities and Administration. “The economic impact of this project to the community is tremendous.”

The expansion is forecast to have a $370 million economic impact, creating or saving more than 9,000 construction-related jobs and adding more than 1,000 new permanent jobs at the Airport.

“Everything is positive in the construction industry right now,” Lawson said. “You’re not hearing anything negative about the local economy; there’s a lot of work.”

The projects also include a commitment of more than $120 million for woman- and minority-owned businesses, many of which are locally owned or have local offices.

Tampa International Airport’s expansion is designed to decongest the Airport’s roadways and Main Terminal, allowing the facility to accommodate years of projected growth without building a new terminal. The first phase of the project includes an expansion of the Main Terminal’s transfer level by roughly 55,000 square feet, the construction of a 1.4 mile automated people mover and a 2.6-million square foot rental car center.

The expansion removes 2.7 million cars each year from the airport roadways, more than doubles rental car options for travelers and frees up parking spaces in Long Term Parking.

To track the ongoing progress of construction, check out Tampa International’s Follow Our Progress page. To find out more about how many people are involved and how the budget is tracking, view our Online Dashboard.

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