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Syracuse Hancock International Airport’s upgrade to promote Syracuse economic development

Pablo Piedra | Contributing Photographer

The Syracuse Hancock International Airport will be going through a renovation funded mostly by the state. New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently said the project could bring 900 new jobs to the city.

The city of Syracuse could see economic growth after Syracuse Hancock International Airport undergoes another round of renovation this year.

New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the airport renovations earlier this month, saying the construction project could bring about 900 new jobs to Syracuse and central New York. There will be jobs created in construction during the renovation and in terminal concessions and airport services after the renovation.

The state will contribute $35.8 million to the project, with Onondaga County contributing $1 million and the Federal Aviation Administration $9.1 million to the project, said Christina Callahan, the airport’s executive director. The Syracuse Airport Authority will also contribute $2.9 million.

The upgrades to the airport include a wide-scale redesign of the terminal, a new regional aviation history museum, a new exterior facade and a new glass pedestrian bridge above the passenger drop-off area, according to a press release from Cuomo’s office.

“People who are coming here are going to benefit from a facility that is modern, upgraded and offers the types of the amenities that travelers want,” Callahan said. “It’s the first and last impression of our community (and) it’s important to us that we leave a positive and memorable impression on passengers.”

Currently, about one million travelers come to Syracuse each year, according to the airport’s website.

The airport still has its roof and mechanical system that was built in 1962, which needs to be replaced because it has exceeded its useful life expectancy, Callahan said. Turing the airport to a brand-new facility, she added, would attract new airline services.

Michael Wasylenko, a professor in the department of economics in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, said the airport is due for an upgrade and that he believes the renovation will enable the airport to welcome more flights from different cities to Syracuse.

“The transportation funds can (not only) get the personnel coming down here, but visitors,” Wasylenko said. “It would have a very good economic impact for us as a region.”

He added that both businesses and residents can benefit from the upgrade because having a better airport makes Syracuse a more attractive place to live. Businesses — especially service industries such as contracts, retail and postal services — will come along with people and workforce to Syracuse, Wasylenko said.

Onondaga County spokesman Justin Sayles said it’s important for any airport or municipality to make it easy for business to be conducted in their areas. The airport is the “welcome mat” for Onondaga County and central New York, he said, adding that he believes the message passengers will get from the airport following the renovations will be a better reflection of what the community has to offer.

Callahan said the project is expected to be complete in two years.

“The facilities that will result from the investment will encourage and welcome business travelers to come (to) Syracuse and Onondaga County,” he said. “It makes it a much easier choice for folks to decide where they want to come and do their businesses.”

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