Governor joins in on Chennault celebration
<p class="indent">The newly-reconstructed 10,700-foot main runway at Chennault International Airport will help set up Southwest Louisiana for continued economic growth, Gov. John Bel Edwards said during a ribbon cutting Tuesday.
<p class="indent">Edwards joined several state and local officials to celebrate the runway being repaired after four months of work. Crews removed worn down sections of the runway, installed a 300-foot blast pad, added LED lighting and replaced joint seals. The effort will extend the runway’s lifespan for more than 70 years.
<p class="indent">“This is how you invest dollars to have a big impact going forward,” Edwards said. “I am convinced the investment dollars and jobs will come, and we will all be better for it.”
<p class="indent">The runway improvements were funded by the Federal Aviation Administration, the state Department of Transportation and Development and Chennault.
<p class="indent">Kevin Melton, Chennault executive director, said growth and economic development is “at the forefront” of operations at the airport.
<p class="indent">Andy Hankins, president of Chennault’s board of directors, said the runway improvements are part of a larger vision to have the airport be “a regional hub for our general aviation industry and a worldwide leader in aviation.”
<p class="indent">“Chennault is the place to land,” he said.
<p class="indent">Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said Chennault’s economic diversity will help the city break away from the “boom-or-bust” economic trend it experienced in the past.
<p class="indent">“Jobs, jobs, jobs; that’s what Chennault is about,” he said.
<p class="indent">State Rep. A.B. Franklin, R-Lake Charles, said he considered Chennault “a sleeping giant” in the early 1980s, when the city’s economy was struggling.
<p class="indent">“Back then, there was nothing,” he said. “Since then, look what has happened now.”
<p class="indent">Don Pierson, secretary of Louisiana Economic Development, said Louisiana is home to some of the leading aviation and aerospace corporations worldwide. He said aviation and aerospace is a $240 billion industry.