LAKELAND, Fla. — “The history of this airport started way back during World War II,” said Gene Conrad, Airport Director of Lakeland Linder International Airport.
That’s when Lakeland Linder International Airport was built.
“To accommodate all the training activity that was required during that time,” said Conrad.
It has seen lots of changes in the years since then, especially this past decade.
“We just have a unique mix, a diverse mix of businesses here in the airport and we want to protect that. It’s important to what we’re doing,” said Conrad.
This airport doesn’t offer commercial services currently but has had a soaring impact on the local economy.
The property is home to more than 60 different businesses from NOAA Hurricane Hunters to the Department of Defense Contractor, Draken International.
“It’s been tremendous growth, even going through the pandemic the last year. Our economic impact now is sitting at 1.5 billion.”
The airport’s latest economic impact study shows they now have more than 3,400 employees on site.
“Just a lot of investment that’s helped drive those numbers to where they are today,” said Conrad.
The facility has seen a lot of growth, especially with the addition of Amazon Air.
“Amazon Air and having their Southeastern hub here, their gateway facility here, that facility opened in July of last year right in the middle of the pandemic... All the other new activity that we have here, even going through COVID with NOAA they just completed their expansion at their facility. We maintained all of our businesses on the airport and some of them have grown,” said Conrad.
Looking to the future, officials hope to land some commercial flights too.
“Polk County and the City of Lakeland, it is exploding here as far as growth and new people moving here… Our goal is to get to a larger hub whether it’s Atlanta or Charlotte or something like that, three, four flights a day so people can move in and out,” said Conrad.