The city of Sanford landed a major economic victory Thursday when local dignitaries broke ground on Allegiant Airlines’ new $24.7 million East Coast training center.

Construction on the 43,000 square-foot facility will begin immediately and is expected to open for training in the first quarter of 2017. The Bokey was the first to report the story in February (“Sanford hopes to land airline training center”).

The training center will have the capacity to train 150 pilots, 500 flight attendants and 100 mechanics annually, on a full range of flight simulator, cabin trainers, and classroom resources for A320 and MD80 aircraft. The facility will require 30 local, full-time instructors and support staff to operate and at least a dozen of those jobs will jobs pay an average of $100,000 a year (239 percent of the private sector wage in Seminole County).

Seminole County estimates the new center will add $16 million annually to the local economy through ancillary businesses, as well as hotel, restaurant and retail spending by pilots, flight attendants and mechanics staying in Sanford for multi-week training.

In fact, Phase 2 of the project calls for a 300-room hotel to be built next to the training center. The training center would be located south of Lake Golden and immediately west of Red Cleveland Boulevard, the main entrance to Orlando Sanford International Airport.

Sanford’s Economic Development Director Bob Turk said the success of landing the Allegiant training center is already paying dividends.

“I’ve been contacted by another aviation company is looking to locate near the Allegiant property,” Turk said.

Larry Gouldthorpe, President of Airports Worldwide (the company that operates the international and domestic terminal at Orlando Sanford International Airport) said he is not surprised the private sector is exploring near the airport.

“The training center will be a catalyst project for development all around the airport,” Gouldthorpe said. “Add to that the community support Sanford has shown by creating business friendly programs like tax abatements, and I expect you will see lots more of these type of announcements.”

Congressman John Mica, Florida Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera, airport officials and local dignitaries joined Maury Gallagher, chief executive officer and chairman of Allegiant, to formally break ground on the airline’s new East Coast training center.

Allegiant began flying out of the Sanford airport in 2005. In that time, nearly 14 million Allegiant passengers have traveled through the Sanford airport. With direct, non-stop flights to 71 cities, Sanford is the airline’s top destination.

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