ìThere are lots of different reasonsî to make Wednesdayís signing a celebration, said Stuart Adams, chairman of MIDA (Military Installation Defense Authority). ##M:MORE##
The former legislator and Layton resident was out of town and unable to attend, but told the Clipper: ìWeíve been concerned over the years about base closures. We saw the DDO (Defense Depot Ogden) close. Hill has been on the list before.
ìThe more valuable we make HAFB to the military, the less probable it will ever close,î he said.
ìThe other reason we ought to be excited is that many people are feeling the pinch of the economic slowdown, right now. This has the potential to bring a lot more jobs into the area.î
ìItís one of the largest economic development projects in Utahís history,î said Bruce Evans, Enhanced Use Leasing program manager for Hill Air Force Base.
The most optimistic projections put the projectís job-generation potential at between 50,000 and 75,000 new jobs, mostly high-paying, within the next 15-20 years, he said.
ìOne of the unique things about this project is the worldwide and nationwide recruitment effort by the developer,î Evans told the Clipper.
Sunset Ridge is a consortium of three developers, among them Utahís Woodbury Corporation.
ìWhen you combine more jobs, a better quality of life and economy, these will be family-sustaining jobs, jobs that pay enough above median income,î Adams said. ìWhen you bring jobs like that in, it helps everyone, not only with quality of life but with economic prosperity.î
ìIt has been very, very difficult to get to this day,î Adams said. ìWe have had a lot of help by our congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., and the local representatives at HAFB have been phenomenal, Bruce Evans and his team.
ìNone of this wouldíve come about if it werenít for our local legislators and governor. They saw the vision and created MIDA,î he said.
Some state funding has served as a stimulus, with Sen. Sheldon Killpack, R-Syracuse, and Rep. Brad Dee, R-North Davis/Southern Weber County, among local leaders in the project. Both spoke Wednesday. Former Layton mayor and MIDA vice-chair Jerry Stevenson also spoke to the group.
An audience of about 200 gathered at the HAFB Aerospace Museum for the event, including Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who spoke.. He has been a staunch backer of the base for the 31 years he has been in the nationís capital.
Kathleen L. Ferguson, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for Installations, signed the actual associated documents for the Air Force.
ìMs. Fergusonís signing paves the way for the construction of over a million square feet of modern, state of the art Air Force facilities that will replace our aging World War II-era office space,î said Maj. Gen. Kathleen Close, HAFB 75th Air Base Wing commander.
ìFalcon Hill is the first such agreement based almost exclusively on a commercial profit-sharing model,î she said. ìThis historic agreement aligns the Air Forceís interest with the state and Sunset Ridge to incentivize financial success.î
Several million more square feet of other development, ìoutside the fenceî on land owned by the base but outside the base, will also be developed.
ìSome of the unknowns include what kinds of missions might come here, depending on Air Force decisions to be made at a later date in participation with new workloads at Hill,î Evans said.
ìIn Department of Defense history, this is the largest and most financially successful, at least in its potential,î he said.
Groundbreaking is being planned for early to mid October.