Cessna Aircraft Company is expected to sign a lease Tuesday for a potential jet maintenance center at Williams Gateway Airport in Mesa.
The impact of the company’s decision to lease 16 acres on the north side of the airport still isn’t clear, because it has two years to begin building a service center for 4,200 active Citation business jets.
If it does, the lease will run 40 years and it can expand up to 85,000 square feet.
Mesa Mayor Keno Hawker announced Cessna’s interest in the airport during his State of the City address Jan. 3, but said this week he wishes he could have been more specific.
"I had hoped that we could announce 500 new jobs are coming to the airport, and all of them will be earning an average of $50,000," he said.
But, he said, Cessna’s locking up of two lots between Sossaman Road and the north end of the runway is a sign investment in the airport is beginning to pay off.
The airport uses the three runways left behind when Williams Air Force Base closed in 1993, and $150 million in federal and local money has been spent to improve roads and utility service there.
Wayne Balmer, Mesa’s project manager for the Williams Gateway area, said he and others working to attract cargo and passenger service have heard a lot of "whens" from interested companies since September 2001.
"But when we get to all those ‘whens,’ Williams Gateway is on everybody’s list," he said.
There were 1,140 people employed at the airport in 2004, a 38 percent jump over 2003, airport spokesman Brian Sexton said Friday.
No one large employer moved in, but most of the 35 already there are expanding.
Cessna spokeswoman Jessica Myers said Friday that Arizona is strategically located within a "large Citation population" in the western United States and Latin America, but she couldn’t say whether or when construction will start, or how many jobs may be created.