Airport Upgrades Bring New Jobs?

Tue August 11, 2020 - West Edition #17
Community Impact

The expansion is the single largest capital development program that the city has invested in at Bush Intercontinental since the airport was constructed and opened in 1969.
The expansion is the single largest capital development program that the city has invested in at Bush Intercontinental since the airport was constructed and opened in 1969.



Contractors are moving forward this summer on a billion-dollar expansion program at George Bush Intercontinental Airport that officials said could bring construction jobs and economic growth to the region.

The Houston Airport System continues its $1.3 billion capital improvement program, the IAH Terminal Redevelopment Program, despite travel decline from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Airport officials are pushing forward on one of the biggest parts of the program: essentially combining terminals D and E to expand the international footprint at the airport.

"This is the single largest capital development program that the city has invested in at Bush Intercontinental since the airport was constructed and opened in 1969," HAS Chief Development Officer Robert Barker said.

Mark Mitchell, president of the Lake Houston Area Economic Development Partnership, said the partnership frequently leverages airport system improvements and other corporate-level expansions as incentives for new businesses to join the area.

"Those are all meaningful for both national and international companies," he said. "The proximity of the airport along with the expansions is really important to economic development because we use it as a marketing tool to try and attract companies."

In addition to general regional economic growth, the two construction projects will bring many construction-related jobs to IAH through 2024, Bernal said.

"A construction this vast will bring jobs and opportunities," Mitchell said.

Data from geographic information system company Esri shows 4,625 Lake Houston-area residents, or 6.68 percent of the local workforce, work in the construction industry as of the third quarter of 2019. Esri reported a 1.4% increase in construction-related jobs in the last five years, and the company predicted a 1.6 percent increase in jobs to become available in the next year.

The contractors of the two projects, Hensel Phelps and Austin Gilbane Joint Venture, will solicit personnel for the specific projects, Bernal said. Meanwhile, HAS solicits contracting jobs for numerous other airport projects at fly2houston.com/biz, Bernal said.

Construction on the new Mickey Leland International Terminal will kick off in late summer with the $560 million central processor, which will be a hub located between Terminal D and Terminal E.