Two major expansion projects are underway at Chicago Rockford International Airport, both expected to make a huge economic impact. Airport administrators say their cargo operations have skyrocketed in the last two years.
“The demand is big right now for us,” said airport executive director Mike Dunn.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held at the airport on Monday, with Rep. Cheri Bustos and Sen. Dick Durbin in attendance. One project will expand the cargo facility from 72,000 square feet to roughly 190,000 square feet.
“The delivery of air cargo is a $35 billion proposition,” said Bustos. “Rockford is doing a good job of tapping into that.”
Dunn says the original cargo ramp at the cargo facility could only handle three airplanes. The expansion nearly triples that.
“This new expansion will take us to eight,” said Dunn. “Eight doesn’t sound like a lot to some people but it really is because these airplanes are here, they load, reload and go.”
Airport officials say nearly 1.4 billion pounds of cargo traveled through RFD last year — a 50% increase over 2016.
“This could be used as a model for any community in the state of Illinois,” said Bustos. “Very, very proud of the Rockford community.”
Dunn predicts the two major expansion projects will add nearly around 1,000 jobs over the next 12 months.
“When you’re dealing with cargo, you’re dealing with all types of jobs. You have trucking, you have handlers, you have fuelers, you have what guys on the airport marshallers.”
Dunn adds the airport ramp is expected to be completed by October. The cargo facility expansion should be done by October 2019.