West Star set for multi-million dollar expansion

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- Sequester cuts are freeing up some space for an aviation business to expand its operations.

Tuesday morning, the Grand Junction Regional Airport Authority board of directors approved a plan for a multi-million dollar expansion of West Start Aviation, Inc.

The aircraft maintenance facility’s officials say the business needed more space for paint and completions services, so they began a bidding process to find a host city.

In the end, a proposal from the Airport Authority, Colorado Aeronautical Board and Grand Junction Economic Partnership won the bid.

To get West Star to stay in the area, they will construct a new 45,500 square-foot, $8 million hangar and lease an additional 48,900 square feet of airport space. That includes parts of the airport tower, which have been empty due to FAA sequestration cuts.

Denny Granum, chair of the Airport Authority board, said to pay for the hangar, the authority will take out $8 million in revenue bonds.

"Those revenue bonds will be paid for by the lease payments that West Star will be making of $110,000 per month," said Granum.

Half of the lease will go to reduce the bonds themselves, and the other $55,000 will go into escrow, according to Granum. The hangar should be paid off in seven years, at which point the Airport Authority will own it and lease it back to West Star.

The Airport Authority estimates that the deal will bring in 150 new jobs over five years, including 40 jobs in the first year. In the first year, officials say the payroll increase should equal about $6 million, and over the build out period, that should grow to $100 million.

With the new facility, West Star CEO Bob Rasberry says workers will do all aircraft service in one building: airframe, engine, paint and completions.

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