Aircraft company’s Grissom project on track

Construction is proceeding on time for a hangar at Grissom Air Reserve Base in northern Indiana, where a company plans to bring in large jets for painting and planners hope to attract more aviation businesses.

The $13.8 million project is expanding a hangar by 50,000 feet to accommodate Boeing 747s and other large planes serviced by Texas-based Dean Baldwin Painting.

The dry summer helped construction stay on schedule since starting in May, and work should be done by mid-December, the executive director of the Miami County Economic Development Authority told the Kokomo Tribune for a story Monday.

Jim Tidd said contractors have so far installed exhaust systems, completed work on the office-space area and poured the foundation for the hanger's expansion. Later this month, cranes will erect steel frames for the hangar expansion's walls and roof.

"All the contractors have been good to work with and done a great job so far," Tidd said. "Hopefully the weather will continue cooperating with us this winter."

Baldwin Painting plans to hire about 200 people to work on some 200 airplanes a year at what was Grissom Air Force Base until it was downgraded in 1994. The base midway between South Bend and Indianapolis has a runway that's more than 2 miles long.

The company is accepting applications for positions and will soon start hiring, said Rick Smith, Baldwin Painting's vice president of business development.

The company has facilities in New Mexico and Texas and works for several major airlines, including United, Southwest, US Airways and Air Canada.

The expansion project is being financed largely by federal and state loans, which Tidd said will be paid off by the company's 30-year lease deal with the county.

"Right now, everybody's got the same purpose in mind — to get Dean Baldwin into the building as soon as possible so they can create 200 jobs," he said.

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