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A new 40,000-square-foot cargo facility at Eastern Iowa Airport soon will become a package sorting and distribution hub for United Parcel Service.
About 75 people, including Cedar Rapids leaders and representatives from area businesses, gathered at a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday morning as airport and UPS officials unveiled plans for the $10.2 million building, adjacent to the airport's new cargo apron.
The airport will build the cargo facility - the first new building under its ongoing expansion project - with UPS expected to begin operations there around spring 2021, relocating from its current apron space.
Airport Director Marty Lenss said the new facility marks a 'significant play” for the airport in completing a project included for years in its master plan. The facility will position the airport to meet growing air cargo needs, stemming from increasing e-commerce and next-day delivery service for the area, for the next 50 years, he said.
'This development and commitment by UPS really further solidifies our region as a transportation and logistics center going forward,” Lenss said.
UPS currently leases 6,300 square feet at the airport and has signed a 10-year lease for the additional 40,000 square feet, with options to renew for an additional 20 years.
Stephanie Dexter, president of UPS' North Plains district, said the cargo facility will feature the latest operations technology and bring new jobs to the airport, though UPS officials could not provide a precise estimate as to how many.
'I'm always thrilled to see expansions being made in our network because I know they'll bring amazing opportunities,” she said.
The amount of landed cargo weight at the airport increased 8.5 percent from August 2018 to the same month this year, and the airport's share of Iowa's total cargo volume grew from 29 percent to 44 percent from 2008 to 2017, according to airport statistics.
Lenss said the airport now handles about half the state's total cargo volume.
The new cargo facility was announced following completion of the airport's cargo apron, a $10.3 million space three football fields wide and one and a half fields deep, and capable of handling up either four Boeing 767 or two Boeing 747 planes side by side.
The cargo facility, apron and infrastructure together are slated to cost nearly $27 million, with $11.4 million in federal and state grant funds and $15.4 million from the Cedar Rapids Airport Commission.
UPS currently has just over 60 employees working out of the Eastern Iowa Airport, with more than 325 workers in the greater Cedar Rapids area, factoring in its facilities in Hiawatha and Coralville.
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