Chennault Park primed and ready for growth

Chennault Park

An aerial view of Chennault Park. Current tenants include Northrop Grumman, Landlocked Aviation Services, Citadel Completions, Louisiana Millwork (Masonite), Million Air, Bechtel, Habitat for Humanity and Tadlock LLC.

Special to the American PressKevin Melton.jfifKevin Melton, Chennault International Airport Authority executive director

Chennault Park, which offers ready-to-develop properties adjacent to what’s already a thriving complex of aviation businesses, is primed and ready for the future.

Kevin Melton, executive director of Chennault International Airport Authority, said over the last year, the facility has been building up its infrastructure and identifying ways to bring in additional clients.

“Primarily we have focused on road access, understanding where the utilities lie — all the preparatory work that goes along with economic development,” Melton said. “We have been using Cushman & Wakefield — which has an international footprint — together with NAI-Latter & Blum locally and they’re tasked with finding opportunities and prospective clients to come in here and build out and grow within Chennault.”

He said in addition to finding clients, the firms have helped the airport understand deficiencies that need to be addressed in order to attract those clients.

“The infrastructure was one of those key components,” he said. “Several people are interested but they need better roads built to get to their sites.”

Melton said 2020 is going to bring some good things to the airport.priming airplane.jfif

An aircraft is prepped for painting.

“I’ve already redirected $1.6 million to build out the main and only entryway into the airport, which is important because it does not satisfy the traffic flow in and out of the airport,” Melton said. “That road supports not just the 1,500-person workforce that we have, but it supports the 3,000 students coming in every single day to Sowela, it supports the Sheriff’s Office who has the training academy on the southside of the airfield, and Harbor House. This is for the community as a whole. Building the two lanes into a four-lane road will bring great capacity and it’s a good first impression. It shows people we are a center of excellence and we are primed and ready to support future growth and the future of airspace here at Chennault.”

Also this year, Chennault Park’s newest tenant — Citadel — will break ground on a 70,000-plus square-foot cabinet-making construction facility in addition to renting the airport’s Hangar H. When the construction is completed, Citadel is expected to employ an additional 100 workers.

Chennault will also be building a 10,000-square-foot aircargo facility, funding for which Melton credits to the advocacy of state Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Suphur, and former longtime Jennings legislator Jerry Theunissen, who has served as Chennault’s legislative advisor.

“We were able to get $2 million in capital outlay and are anticipating the remaining $1 million in the next fiscal year. That’s enabled us to get a complete design and move towards a ground breaking we expect at the end of 2020,” he said. “That will be about a 12-month project to build and in the interim we anticipate working with an aircargo consultant who will be guiding us and connecting us with potential clients so that when the facility is completed we will be able to begin some form of operations.”airplane landing gear.jfif A plane on the Chennault runway. While Chennault’s main focus is the safety and compliance of air travel, the facility is also focused on economic development and bringing more jobs to the area.

Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries has also signed a lease for 10 acres to build a new administrative facility, he said.

While Chennault’s main focus is the safety and compliance of air travel, Melton said the facility is also focused on economic development and bringing more jobs to the area.

“We really want to build out to that 11,000-person workforce that we believe we can get to that would eventually create $780 million in sales tax revenue for the parish and up to $1.1 billion in sales tax revenue for the state,” he said.

Chennault’s strategic location at the center of the Gulf Coast provides access to a wide swath of the southern United States. The park’s infrastructure, incentives, low costs and ample room for expansion make it an attractive site for new development, he said.

“Chennault Park is also a concept and brand that has the ability to grow our existing tenants workforce,” he said. “There are six major parcels of land that equate to well over 700 acres of land that we are aiming to develop.”

Already Chennault Park’s tenants include Northrop Grumman, Landlocked Aviation Services, Citadel Completions, Louisiana Millwork (Masonite), Million Air, Bechtel, Habitat for Humanity and Tadlock LLC.

Melton said Chennault’s continuity of service and economic power is real — people work there, they gather there for huge events like the airshow and Air Force One landings, their children visit and learn about the airspace industry and what related careers they might want to explore.

“Chennault brings economic diversity so that we are not completely reliant on any one industry,” he said. “We’re an economic driver for this community, we have the ability to grow and expand, and the money we invest goes right back into the pockets of our local workforce. This is the taxpayers’ airport and we are trying to do good for the taxpayer.”


Monica Smith’s teaching career began with Tiny Steps

Local News

Pro Watercross: National championships return to LC this weekend

Jim Beam

Jim Beam column:What’s latest on our voting?


LaGrange student arrested for bringing gun to school


Mom’s school lunches look complicated, but they’re not

Local News

Entergy customers will pay $3.2 billion to reimburse company for repair costs

Local News

United Way to open Entergy Utility Assistance Program Wednesday

Local News

Low potential for tropical cyclone development in southwest Gulf


8/16: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff announces arrest list

Local News

Elton water services to be shut off at 4 p.m. today


Sheriff: Teenager shot during Kinder back-to-school party


8/15: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff announces arrest list


LC man charged in Saturday shooting

Local News

Feds oppose unsealing affidavit for Mar-a-Lago warrant


BREAKING: Mother charged with murder after 6-month-old left in car five hours

Local News

LAPAW in dire need of fosters, donations

Local News

Voting machine debate: Conspiracies question integrity of elections

Local News

Heart for volunteerism at core of Care Help for 40 years

Local News

Impairment, speed suspected in fatal crash


8/14: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff announces arrest list


SW La. school lunch menus Aug. 15-19

Local News

Texas man dies when Peterbilt crashes


Business, industry thought leaders George Swift and Daniel Groft optimistic about future of SW La.


The Informer: Mowing pad being created for cable barrier along I-210