WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT) – From the ground to the air, a new multi-million dollar project will be enhancing the Washington-Warren Airport. Local officials celebrated those new developments with a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday.

“Where are they going to find a job, you know, the aviation industry is one of the fastest growing areas of the economy. So having an enhanced airport does that,” said N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore.

The enhancements were made possible by $20 million in state funding. Officials expect that the improvements — which include a new landing system, runways and taxiways — will generate more jobs, from contract work to the aerospace and marine industries.

“We’re talking about hundreds of jobs per firm,” said Airport Director Earl Malpass. “So it’s going to multiply it may not be ginormous with something like Amazon or something like that. But for Beaufort County, you get 1,000 good paying jobs. That’s gonna make a big impact.”

“We did this with COVID money,” said Rep. Keith Kidwell. “We’re able to bring in a return on investment where the state will actually recover the funds that are being injected, and that the people of Beaufort County you’re gonna see significant job growth from this project.”

The improvements will benefit the entire county and beyond, officials said, particularly because the airport serves as a gateway between New York and Miami.

“A lot of folks don’t realize the end impact, the economic impact that local airports have, we bring, there’s over $8 million given to the local economy just through the income tax, or taxes for the for this area here that that impacts that pays for the libraries, a place pays for the police department, the rescue squad, the streets and things like that,” said Malpass.

Also during the ground breaking ceremony it was announced that some of the airport’s workers will be receiving a salary increase. The project is expected to be completed in two to three years.