Anchorage airport activity seen as way to creat jobs

Posted: Thursday, August 08, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The Anchorage Economic Development Corp. has outlined a plan to strengthen local businesses and create new jobs by boosting activity at the city's international airport.

The idea is to leverage a decade of growth in Anchorage's air cargo industry by targeting shippers, cargo handlers and other related companies that could take advantage of the Anchorage hub.

AEDC head Larry Crawford outlined the plan Wednesday at a presentation to AEDC members. Crawford said the group will tout Anchorage's advantages to big-name companies in North America, Asia and Europe by phone, mail and visits.

The nonprofit group is using $150,000 in state funds and $100,000 in private donations and staff time for the effort.

Anchorage has a strategic location and can offer maintenance and cargo transfer services. But the next wave of services AEDC envisions require constructing a new facility.

Christina Wallace of Evergreen International Airlines said businesses at the airport, AEDC, the airport and city are discussing a building that could be a one-stop aviation shopping center.

Airlines are already landing to refuel and de-ice. Why go to another airport for repairs, re-sorting cargo for the next leg, and getting cargo containers repaired? Do it all in Anchorage will be the message.

''We believe we can make that happen,'' said Crawford, a former Anchorage city manager. AEDC is a nonprofit funded mostly by private donations, with city funds adding another 40 percent, and another 5 or so percent from the state. Its mission is to promote economic development in Anchorage.

Crawford said the airport already owns land that could accommodate a one-stop shopping center with services such as cargo container repair.

Over the next year, AEDC will pitch the airport's growth potential to anyone in North America, Asia and Europe who might be interested.

''We're looking for developers, providers and customers,'' Crawford said. He said the project doesn't have a fixed timeline and probably wouldn't happen next summer. ''We're looking for enough letters of intent, letters of interest to convince somebody that this could happen.''

Crawford also said the planning process is flexible. If customers expressed more interest in a hangar that could accommodate a Boeing 747, he said, that could move up to the top of the list.

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