The Collier County Airport Authority recently received $8 million dollars in grant funding from the Federal Aviation Administration for infrastructure upgrade projects at the Immokalee, Marco Island and Everglades airports.
The Immokalee Regional Airport received the largest share of the FAA appropriation with $6.6 million for a runway rehabilitation project. Collier County is also contributing $800,000 for that project.
The need for the infrastructure improvements was recognized by a 2011 study from the Florida Department of Transportation according to former Collier County Airport Executive Director Chris Curry.
“And what they found was that the pavement associated with the Marco and Immokalee airports were rated in very poor condition,” said Curry. “Immokalee in particular had not had any major pavement work done to the runways since they were built back in the 1940s.”
The airport was originally built as a World War II era bomber training facility.
Curry said the project will create jobs in the short term, as well as boost economic development in the long term. “It will certainly attract more jet traffic because of the improved infrastructure and I think the region itself will develop economically,” said Curry. “You have the casino as it exists today with possible expansion opportunities that may be happening in the near future. You’ve also got Ave Maria and you’ve also got Arthrex medical facilities. That will attract people from the medical profession and Immokalee is the closest place for them to come in.”