ONSLOW COUNTY -

Community leaders gathered at the Albert J. Ellis (OAJ) airport to break ground on a new terminal on Friday. “We have been working toward this day for a long time,” stated Onslow County Board of Commissioners Chairman, W.C. Jarman.

The OAJ airport received 24 million dollars in grant money from the Federal Aviation Administration, North Carolina Department of Transportation, and various other state agencies.

Construction on the new two story terminal will begin winter 2012 and will feature over 56,000 sq.ft. of passenger and operational spaces with expanded screening, waiting, and boarding areas.  There will be second level boarding via covered jet bridges, new concessions, and other passenger amenities, according to airport officials.

"This is a tremendous day for Onslow County," said Jeffrey Hudson, Onslow County Manager.  "In order to have a good solid local economy, you need to have a good airport."

Hudson said the OAJ airport currently supports approximately 340 jobs in the area, and there will soon be more.  "We expect hundreds of people will be hired to construct the facility," said Hudson.  "And then we will have an expanded facility, that will allow additional air carriers to come to Onslow County, which also means more jobs."

Airport officials said they expect up to 24 new permanent jobs for the airport. 

"It's like a home family base," said Lois Brinson.  Brinson, who works in housekeeping, has been working at the airport for nearly 27 years.  "It's a good morale, good atmosphere."

Airport officials said the project would be completed in two years.