Rockford Airport Against Amazon Expansion In Chicago

#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>Rockford officials are dismissing pleas by leaders in Chicago’s south suburbs for a new
#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>airport anchored by Amazon traffic.

#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>At a recent event to welcome two new Amazon fulfillment centers to the south suburbs,
#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Illinois, renewed calls to build a long-delayed facility in
#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>Peotone, suggesting the e-commerce giant could create a new hub there.

#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>“With so many Amazon facilities emerging in the Chicago metro area I am certain that
#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>we’re going to need a more accessible airport,” Kelly said.

#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>The state has spent millions of dollars acquiring land around Peotone since 2002 and has
#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>committed $205 million for a new interchange along Interstate 57, near the proposed site.

#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>“There are people at Amazon who certainly will be an important part of the decision
#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>making about whether companies like Amazon will want to move their cargo operations
#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>to an airport like Peotone,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.

#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>But Zack Oakley, deputy director of operations and planning with the Chicago-Rockford
#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>International Airport, says Amazon already has a home in the region at RFD.

#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>“We just opened up their expansion of their building in July of last year,” Oakley said.
#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>“Now they’re operating with eight parking positions in a roughly 200,000 square foot
#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>building. We’re staying in front of anything that they need.”

#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>Amazon traffic at Rockford’s airport has increased from one flight to twelve flights per
#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>day over the past four years, with the company’s footprint growing from 30,000 square
#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>feet to around six times that size.

#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>“I understand the request [for Peotone],” Oakley said. “I don’t think it’s needed. I think
#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>we are more than able to handle any growth or need in the Midwest for Amazon. When
#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>they call, we definitely jump and make sure we’re accommodating them. We are very
#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>cognizant of their needs.”



#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />
#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>Amazon has been a key driver in lifting the Chicago-Rockford International Airport
#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>into the top twenty cargo facilities in the country. Oakley said they have the ability to
#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>meet whatever expansion plans Amazon might have in the present, without the
#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>uncertainly of the south suburban airport plans.

#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>“Peotone, they always talk about it like it’s out there in the short term,” Oakley said.
#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>“Realistically, there’s nothing approved for that. To see a viable airport down in the south
#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>suburbs would take 15-to-20 years. It’s not like it’s a turnkey, ready-to-go type project.”

#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>The Rockford airport recently received $10 million in state and federal grants to
#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>add additional jet parking spaces, for use by Amazon and others.

#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>“Our growth over the last three-to-five years has been pretty impressive,” Oakley said.
#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>“And then the wintertime is where we see a huge need for additional parking and having
#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>these additional spaces available to our users ahead of ahead of that Christmas rush is
#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>vital.”

#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>Following impressive growth over the last few years, Oakley says cargo traffic at the
#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;” />#222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>Rockford airport is up an additional 25 percent thus far in 2020.

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(Copyright WBGZ Radio / www.AltonDailyNews.com)

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