St. Clair County Board members have approved selling bonds to finance expansions of two companies housed at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Mascoutah. Both companies have agreed to repay the county through renewed lease agreements.
The county will sell $3.65 million in bonds to fund expansions at North Bay Produce and the Boeing Co. at the airport. The companies are looking to accommodate more employees and increase their operations within buildings at the site.
County Board Chairman Mark Kern said the bond sale will spur growth of the private companies and add a combined 60 jobs at the site.
The bonds are part of an upcoming $30.3 million bond sale approved Monday, which will also fund more than $21.5 million in road projects and refinance bonds previously issued by the county. The refinancing of the current bonds was a "golden opportunity" and is anticipated to save the county up to $145,000 in interest costs, according to County Administrator Dan Maher.
About $3.5 million from the bond will fund an 18,000-square-foot expansion to North Bay's refrigerated warehouse. North Bay has agreed to pay back the cost of the bonds in full and extend their lease from 15 to 23 years, Maher said.
County officials with the Public Building Commission previously approved construction plans for the expansion to the current 36,000-square-foot warehouse. The expansion will allow the produce company to grow from its current 32 employees to 80 people upon completion, and provide a storage area available to other companies shipping perishable goods through the airport.
North Bay President Mark Girardin said the bonds were needed because the county retains ownership of the warehouse. North Bay paid $500,000 in advance towards its lease last May, Girardin said.
"We believe we have a true partnership with the county and North Bay," Girardin said. "If we could we'd borrow against the building ourselves but we can't, and we need to use this tool."
The bonds will also pay for an expansion of the Boeing Company's assembly plant at MidAmerica. The county will pay the upfront costs for the $100,000 project but Boeing will pay the county back through increased rent during its remaining six-year lease, according to Cantwell.
The county will build a 700-square-foot mezzanine within the plant to allow the company to accommodate more workers. The enclosed office space will move Boeing engineers from the tooling floor into an enclosed office space and allow the company to grow their operation from the current 89 workers to 110 employees by August.
The expansion will "max out that building," MidAmerica Airport Director Tim Cantwell said.
Boeing spokeswoman Chamila Jayaweera said in a statement the company continues to evaluate its facilities to position the company for competitive growth.
"The mezzanine expansion is sufficient to accommodate potential growth while providing a suitable environment for subassembly and engineering activities," Jayaweera said.
Boeing's site at MidAmerica is the most profitable of all the company's locations, Cantwell said, and is "winning work but they just don't have space right now." The plant produces equipment for the F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet, CH-47 Chinook helicopter, and C-17 Globemaster IIImilitary transport aircraft.
Contact reporter Daniel Kelley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2501.