ONSLOW COUNTY -

The Albert J. Ellis Airport has received a $2 million grant to help build a new terminal.

Judy Strange flies into OAJ about twice a year to visit family. She says the airport is already a place that makes her life easier.

"We have no problems," Strange said. "You just walk right through and get your bag, and go. Parking is wonderful."

The N.C. Division of Aviation awarded the $2 million to the airport, located between Richlands and Jacksonville. The grant, announced on Tuesday, will be used for terminal redevelopment, including construction of general and commercial service terminals, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation.

Airport Director Chris White says the new two-story terminal will be a great way to spruce up the gate to Onslow County.

"It's going to give Onslow County residents and the airport all new resources and assets, new facilities that are just going to be outstanding," White said.

White says what's under construction is a new terminal with hopefully several restaurants, more parking, more hangars and room for a third airline. He says airport officials are actively recruiting for more airlines to serve the airport.

Strange says a first impression is everything.

"If you have a bad experience flying in somewhere, people are not friendly or you have difficulty renting a car, or getting your bag or finding where the baggage claim place is -- that all has a positive or negative effect," Strange said.

Based on a recent study, Albert J. Ellis Airport has a yearly economic impact of almost $192 million, and supports more than 340 jobs. White says even the construction process helps support the local economy. Those working on the construction site are from the area, and they're even buying materials locally.

Officials say construction should wrap up at the end of this year.