Log in


Wilson: Private development at Gateway Airport big economic boost


As this year’s chairman of the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Authority board of directors, I am proud to represent the six member communities — Apache Junction, Mesa, Gilbert, Gila River Indian Community, Queen Creek and Phoenix — that own and operate Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. I’ve always been so impressed by the shared vision and regional spirit of cooperation that guides the development and improvement of Gateway Airport.

One area of the airport’s operation that has really taken off (yes, pun intended) in the past several years is the private investment of both aeronautical and non-aeronautical companies. Gateway Airport is home to approximately 50 companies and currently has more than one million square feet of construction underway. Take a drive around the airport and see the transformation that is occurring. It’s amazing! Having served in the U.S. Air Force at the former Williams Air Force Base, it is so gratifying to see my former base transformed into the tremendous economic engine we see today.

SkyBridge Arizona is a 360-acre mixed-use master development opportunity at the south end of the airfield. Master developer Mesa SkyBridge LLC, a consortium of Mexican and U.S. companies, is investing more than $40 million on infrastructure — a taxi lane extension, roadways and utilities — to prepare the site for development. Projects completed or under construction include: three industrial buildings totaling more than 550,000 square feet, an 82,500-square-foot hangar, a 129-room dual-brand hotel, an educational facility and teaching restaurant, and a cross flow testing facility.

Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. is constructing a 225,000-square-foot hangar and office complex to serve as a west coast service center. Gulfstream plans to hire hundreds of local employees and has plans for additional expansion of services in the future.

The Gateway Executive Airpark, a multi-hangar development at the north end of the airfield between Cessna and Embraer, is home to both The Boeing Co. and Virgin Galactic. Boeing, a global aerospace industry leader with a long and successful history in Mesa, uses its Gateway Airport facility for final preparation of Apache helicopters prior to transport to customers worldwide. Virgin Galactic, a space tourism company, is constructing two large hangars, one to house the “mothership” and one as a spaceship manufacturing facility. Virgin Galactic plans to manufacture up to six spaceships each year at its Gateway Airport facility. The mothership will transport the spaceships to New Mexico for launch activities.

Gateway East is a 273-acre, non-aeronautical master development opportunity on the east side of Gateway Airport. The Boyer Co., headquartered in Salt Lake City, plans to create a first-class airport business park offering a unique mix of high-quality office, manufacturing, industrial and commercial retail tenants. Their first tenant is a 275,000-square-foot manufacturing facility. Many thanks to the city of Mesa for its continued support of Gateway Airport and the region. Mesa is completing several important infrastructure projects — a bridge, roadways and utilities — costing tens of millions of dollars to unlock the site for development.

The private investment underway at Gateway Airport represents thousands of high-wage jobs and the contribution of hundreds of millions of dollars to the Phoenix East Valley economy. I am proud to serve as chairman of the authority during this exciting period of transformation. I appreciate the opportunity to play a leadership role this year and thank the other members of the board for giving me this honor.

opinion, letter