The addition is expected to increase the airport’s annual economic impact by more than $304 million.

Tallahassee officials inaugurated the site of the Tallahassee International Airport (TLH) international processing facility on Tuesday.

The facility, a multi-year, $28 million project slated to open in 2024, will enable TLH to accommodate international flights and ship and receive cargo around the world. The airport’s annual economic impact is expected to increase from $599 million to $1 billion.

Initial planning for the addition began in 2014 and is part of TLH’s Master Plan approved by the Federal Aviation Administration and Florida Department of Transportation. The addition will house a United States Customs and Border Protection– an approved international port of entry and a federal inspection station that will service both commercial air service and general aviation flights at the airport.

The groundbreaking ceremony used shovels painted gold with the Tallahassee logo on its blade.

The event brought together dozens of local government officials, airport leaders and community members, including the mayor of Tallahassee John Daileymunicipal commissioners Curtis Richardson and Dianne Williams CoxThe Chief of Police Laurent Revell and others. Municipal Commissioners Jeremy Matlow and Jack Porter did not show up.

Ahead of groundbreaking, Dailey said in a speech that the expansion is a key part of the city’s five-year strategic plan and will provide the infrastructure needed to continue to grow the region’s economy. He said making the airport a free zone could add a total of 1,600 jobs to the local economy, raise wages and create a total annual economic impact of more than $304 million.

“I am so proud to be here today to celebrate this occasion as we expand the future of our international airport and open Tallahassee to a world of possibility,” Dailey said. “Our focus on the airport makes it an important economic driver in a way our community has never seen before. Our community and region will benefit from this major investment and the jobs it will create.

Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey delivers remarks at the groundbreaking, accompanied by City Commissioners Dianne Williams-Cox and Curtis Richardson.

Dailey thanked the airport and city employees and officials who helped make this possible.

“We all know that with the right people in place, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish here in our local community,” he said.

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