Gary Jet Center on Wednesday celebrated completion of a $3 million Corporate Flight Center that its leaders hope will help transform business aviation in the Chicago region.
"We feel very strongly our mission is to continue to grow the Chicago aviation base," jet center President Lynn Eplawy said. She said the sleek, modern facility will help bring a needed transformation from the "routine and expected" to "first class" for corporate and general aviation customers.
"We think this new building, and the beautiful hangars we have, are a step to changing that experience," Eplawy said. "Our experience will be first-class from the moment you step out of the aircraft, or out of the car, to our front door."
The Corporate Flight Center completes 12 years of work to establish Gary Jet Center's west campus, home to its services as a fixed-base operator — a company that provides fueling, maintenance, aircraft management and hospitality services for private and business aviation. The west campus includes two 40,000-square-foot hangars, one of which has the environment-friendly LEED Gold certification.
The new building, which the company hopes will also be LEED certified, has a glass-walled, 45-seat lobby that looks out over the airport's main runway, which was extended to about 9,000 feet in a $174 million project completed two years ago.
The 8,300-square-foot flight center also offers pilot and crew lounges, a business center, a conference room, sleeping rooms and kitchen facilities, among other amenities. It is attached to the LEED-certified hangar, which opened in July 2014.
That project brought Gary Jet Center's total hangar-space to 110,000 square feet. Its original buildings, now its east campus, will continue to house administrative offices and the company's charter flight service.
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About 200 invited guests, including customers, vendors, other stakeholders and local officials toured the facility Wednesday.
Rollie Helmling, senior vice president of the Indiana Economic Development Corp., said the new terminal can play an important role in a business that is seeing increased corporate and international activity. Helmling also noted the significance of the company's expansion.
"It's great to see private investors investing their own money, accepting the risk and reinvesting in their community," Helmling said.
The architectural firm Ghafari Associates, design firm Partners by Design and Gary-based construction management firm Lee Companies worked on the project. Lee has worked with the Jet Center throughout the 12-year development of the west campus.
Owner Pat Lee called the flight center "the jewel in the crown of the Gary Jet Center west campus."
Gary Jet Center has about 60 employees. Earlier this year, Chicago-based Boeing Corp., which uses Gary as its home airport, named the jet center a Supplier of the Year for the second time. Thirteen companies around the world earned the award, from among more than 13,000 with which Boeing does business.
For more information about the Gary Jet Center, visit www.garyjetcenter.com.