Proposed business park at MidAmerica could bring 2,100 jobs

News-DemocratJuly 17, 2013 

A proposed business park centered around the construction of cargo planes may soon land at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Mascoutah, and the developers say it could create more than 2,100 jobs.

The county's Public Building Commission, which oversees the airport, will consider on Thursday taking the first step toward selling 253 acres of county-owned property near the airport for the potential construction of an aircraft production facility and business park.

St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern and MidAmerica Director Tim Cantwell could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.

Covenant Aerospace Inc., aims to connect a taxiway from the southern end of the east runway at MidAmerica to a planned Covenant Aerospace Business Park, according to the company's website. Covenant proposes to construct multiple buildings supporting the production of regional cargo airplanes at the business park, located along Illinois 4 just south of Interstate 64.

The owners of Covenant Aerospace could not be reached for comment Wednesday night. The company estimates the development would create 2,180 jobs in St. Clair County.

The site of the proposed business park is within the St. Clair County MidAmerica Enterprise Zone, which encompasses parts of Mascoutah, Shiloh, Lebanon and unincorporated areas surrounding MidAmerica Airport.

Enterprise zones intend to spur investment by offering incentives to businesses. If developers meet a criteria set by state law, they can request incentives such as not having to pay sales taxes on building materials, breaks on utility taxes and reduced property taxes.

Covenant also is negotiating with the current company that provides services for pilots to take over the operation at the MidAmerica.

AVMATS, based in Chesterfield, Mo., currently provides mechanical and other services for crews and leases about three acres of land from MidAmerica. Covenant lists its address as the same as AVMATS location at MidAmerica Airport.

Covenant would assume the lease along with purchasing the additional 253 acres. However, the Public Building Commission will first consider hiring Bernardin, Lochmueller and Associates, based in St. Louis, for $15,000 to appraise the related property.

The commission also will consider joining an association focused upon establishing an international cargo network. MidAmerica would serve as the North American base for flights to Ningbo, China, as part of the Global Cargo Network.

The proposed membership with Global promises to help the airport capitalize on a partnership with Ningbo Lishe International Airport in China. Global also would hold a freight summit for more than 70 shippers, freight forwarders, airlines, hotels, rental car agencies and other businesses at MidAmerica in August.

The cost for MidAmerica to join Global is $135,000. Payment would not be required until after the second flight of scheduled freighter service lands.

Global aims to have route flights to MidAmerica beginning in the fourth quarter of 2013 with the entire system running between five continents in September 2014.

Contact reporter Daniel Kelley at dkelley@bnd.com or 618-239-2501.

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