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Expansion planned for Pratt & Whitney

by Shawn Gainer

STAFF WRITER

Pratt & Whitney Engine Services, Inc. will expand its jet engine service and repair facilities at Benedum Airport.

The Benedum Airport Authority will build a 17,000-square-foot hangar to be leased by Pratt & Whitney. The company will use the hangar to place "loaner" engines on jets so they can return to service while the engines are repaired, said Roger Diaz, president of the authority.

"The most important thing that is happening is the addition of 35-50 new jobs with really good wages -- $35,000 to $60,000 a year for technicians," Diaz said. "Because of the skills they'll need, some people will be moving in and buying homes. It's a big economic turnaround."

Construction of the hangar will be funded by a $1.5 million loan through the West Virginia Infrastructure Council and a $500,000 grant through the office of Gov. Cecil Underwood.

"The reason the Governor has been so supportive is that he sees a great deal of industry coming into the Pratt & Whitney complex," Diaz said.

Diaz said the expansion was aided by the expansion of the airport runway to 7,000 feet.

"The expansion allows almost any kind of jet to come in. We had economic development in mind when we did it and it's starting to pay off," he said.

Pratt & Whitney will formally announce the expansion at their Midway Park Road office June 6 at 10 a.m. Underwood will be the keynote speaker at the ceremony, and Pratt & Whitney executives will also attend, according to an advisory released by the company.

Staff writer Shawn Gainer can be reached at 626-1442.

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