Airport expansion rolls along

- Tampa International Airport has awarded another contract for its remodeling project to a locally-owned company.

West Tampa Glass (WTG) is in the process of closing a deal with TIA to install the windows on its new people mover. It's the second contract the company, which opened in Tampa in 1934, has secured with the airport.

Last April, WTG was awarded a $2-million contract to install a 500-panel wall of glass at the main terminal.

"They could have gone to any number of the national companies, but they chose a local company," said Pat Condon, the owner of West Tampa Glass. "For us, it's a big deal. We're very pleased, and for us, it's a big stepping stone."

TIA officials said the airport has been working to hire as many local companies as possible for its nearly $1-billion expansion. The airport has committed to spending $122 million with woman- and minority-owned businesses.

"At last count, we were well over 100 local businesses working on this," said Danny Valentine, communications manager for TIA.

When the project is complete, the airport expects to debut a new food court with indoor and outdoor seating, a new people mover, a new car rental center, and offer 65 restaurants and shops, some of them locally owned, for travelers to enjoy.

While construction is underway, travelers and crews in hardhats are roaming through the airport side-by-side. According to TIA, the expansion project is expected to create or save 9,000 construction-related jobs.

"Right now, [we have] about 120 employees," sad Condon, "but come Christmas, I expect that number to top over 150 without too much trouble."

Expansion work at TIA is expected to be completed by late 2017.

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