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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Nov. 4, 202105:00 PM EST

DeSantis announces $6 million more for Cecil Airport project

The grant money will be added to $3 million from Space Florida for road and utility work.
by: Mike Mendenhall Associate Editor

The Jacksonville Aviation Authority will receive $9 million in state grant money for road and utility work at Cecil Airport and Spaceport in West Jacksonville.

Officials say the support could help the facility add 3,800 jobs in 10 years.

At a news conference Nov. 4 at Cecil Airport, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced JAA would receive $6 million from the Governor’s Job Growth Grant Fund to help pave nearly 2 miles of road at the city-owned aerospace facility.

JAA Marketing and Public Relations Manager Greg Willis said the money will pay to rebuild Approach Road, which is partially paved from Cecil’s northeast entrance off 103rd Street.

The roadway is an access to Boeing’s $116 million maintenance hangar facility under development that broke ground Oct. 27.

DeSantis told JAA, city and state officials the road work will support industry growth that could add 3,780 jobs at Cecil.

He said that would bring total employment at the airport and spaceport to 6,251 workers.

“What really has happened is you’ve had wave after wave of construction and investment to where Cecil Field is a real leader in commercial aerospace,” DeSantis said.

Cecil Field is Cecil Airport.

JAA recently received a $3 million matching grant from Space Florida to install utility service for the roadway, Willis said in an email Nov. 4.

Cecil Spaceport is expanding and pitching itself as a destination for commercial industry and space tourism. In July, Cecil Spaceport commissioned an $8.9 million 126-foot air traffic control tower and mission control center.

Cecil Spaceport has conducted test launches but has not launched a full mission.

Alabama-based Aevum Inc. is scheduled for a launch in the second quarter of 2022, Spaceport Managing Director Matt Bocchino said in July.

Mayor Lenny Curry and City Council members attended the news conference, among others.

State Rep. Wyman Duggan, R-Jacksonville, said at the event the commercial space industry leaders in Brevard County, home to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, are “a victim of their own success.”

“Between NASA, the (U.S.) Department of Defense, Blue Origin (and) SpaceX, they are bursting at the seams,” he said.

“There’s not a lot more room to develop down there. The commercial space industry wants to get to space.”

Duggan said Florida, and particularly Northeast Florida, are “one of the few places on the planet where you can get to any orbit from a launch here.”

“You can’t say that everywhere else. They are going to want to come here.”

DeSantis said Cecil could “almost double” its annual economic impact to $7 billion as a direct result of the infrastructure investment.

JAA officials expect to start the roadway design in spring 2022 for completion by year-end 2023.

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