Lakeland Linder Regional Airport is embarking on a multi-million dollar project that’s expected to generate hundreds of jobs.

  • Lakeland airport preparing for development project
  • Land will be cleared to accommodate cargo flights
  • It's expected to generate hundreds of jobs

“We’re now working on our new 42 acre development up on the north side of the airport, which will house and be able to accommodate air cargo flights whether domestic or international and also large MRO, maintenance repair and overhaul hangars on that site as well,” said Gene Conrad, the airport’s director.

James Franklin said the possibility of large wide body aircraft landing nearby doesn’t bother him.

“As long as it doesn’t shake the house I’ll be alright,” said Franklin, an aviation enthusiast who thinks the project is a great development for the city.

Airport Director Gene Conrad said being able to fly cargo right into Lakeland is a big deal, especially if the company deals with perishable items.

“For example, with cut flowers coming out of South America, the majority of all that goes into Miami but there’s a potential for us to fly it in here to Lakeland and get it into the distribution system quicker,” Conrad said.

The airport is splitting the cost with the Florida Department of Transportation in a $13 million deal to clear the land and prepare it for development. That includes demolition, wetland mitigation, raising the site, ramp infrastructure, pulling utilities, and road infrastructure, according to Conrad.

If the site is developed to it fullest potential, Conrad expects the project to generate anywhere from 300 to 500 jobs.

Hallback’s Bar and Grill Co-Owner Robert Hallback Jr. Said that would boost their weekday traffic. His family’s restaurant is located in the airport’s terminal.

“I think it’ll be great for the restaurant. Great for the restaurant meaning a lot more support, a lot more people coming in,” said Hallback.

Gene Conrad said companies are already calling him, interested in the project.

“One tenant specifically, that’s looking to build a 59,000 square foot hangar on this development. We’re working on the lease as we speak,” Conrad said.

Construction crews are expected to start clearing land in July.