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FY 2015 Defense Spending By State report now available for download.

Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport is economic engine that East Valley was ‘praying’ for after 25 years

Mesa Mayor John Giles was a first-time council member in the 1990s just after the U.S. Air Force handed over the keys to Williams Air Force Base, allowing the East Valley to repurpose the base into a regional airport.

Giles said he remembers Mesa and other surrounding cities "writing a lot of big checks" and "knowing and hoping and praying" that someday the investment in what is now called Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport would pay off for the growing region.

Almost two decades later when he became mayor, Giles said he had to "choke back a tear to see how everything had come together as we thought it would."

According to a 2013 Arizona State University study, the airport has a $1.3 billion annual impact and supports more than 10,000 jobs in the region.

In just the past few months, the airport announced a major employment project expected to bring 200 high-wage jobs and eight new non-stop destinations provided by Allegiant Air, its major commercial airline.

Twenty-five years after the East Valley cities took control, the airport is finally what proponents hoped it would be, said Councilman Kevin Thompson, who represents the area.

Development experts say this is just the tip of the iceberg and expect a barrage of additional employment and retail opportunities in and around the airport in the next five years as a new 700-acre plot of land was recently approved for development and the airport continues to pursue pricey upgrades.

"I think that it's been slow coming, but that slow, steady pace sometimes is what you need," Thompson said.

Read the complete article here.

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The information above is for general awareness only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Economic Adjustment or the Department of Defense as a whole.