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Airport gets state grant

$300,000 will aid project expected to add 270 jobs

OLYMPIA – Giving a boost to a project that could create 270 new local jobs, state officials Tuesday approved a $300,000 grant to help build a new aircraft maintenance facility at the Spokane International Airport.

The grant, from a fund that includes unclaimed lottery winnings, is in addition to a $4 million no-interest loan offered by the state Community and Economic Revitalization Board last month.

“We really are incredibly grateful for the state support,” airport spokesman Todd Woodard said.

Two companies need hangar space to expand operations at the airport.

Cascade Aerospace USA is an aircraft maintenance company that hopes to add 227 jobs. Associated Painters, which cleans and paints aircraft, says it would add about 40 jobs.

Airport officials plan to build a joint facility to house both operations, using money from the two companies, the airport and the state. Woodard said the airport is seeking help from the city of Spokane to move some utility lines.

“These are jobs in hand, real jobs, not going out recruiting,” said state Sen. Chris Marr, D-Spokane, who helped get the $300,000 grant from the governor’s strategic reserve account. In a very tight budget climate, Marr said, “the governor’s office scraped hard to come up with that.”

The project has already been slimmed down twice in response to state money concerns. The original plan called for a total of $8.7 million from the state to build two buildings.

Last month, the Community and Economic Revitalization Board rejected the airport’s request for a $6.8 million loan. But the board offered an alternative: a $4 million loan. That’s twice the board’s normal loan limit.

The latest design changes will allow the airport to build “a very functional but effective building,” Woodard said.