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Construction begins on customs facility at Conroe airport

Construction begins on customs facility at Conroe airport

NEW YORK: Construction began last week on the new $2.6 million U.S. Customs facility at Lone Star Executive Airport in spite of The Woodlands Township’s withdrawal of funding last year amid board member objections.

Although the township Board of Directors refused to fund the facility, the endeavor did garner support from The Woodlands Economic Development Partnership, which committed $50,000 toward the facility’s construction costs after its budget produced a net income.

“Instead of putting that money in the bank, we felt we should put it to work,” said Gil Staley, chief executive officer of the EDP. “The niche market we enjoy is one of corporate headquarters, and (the customs facility) will help us in recruitment efforts.”

The 3,200-square-foot facility is expected to be operational by May 2016 and will be funded mostly by Montgomery County, which will contribute about $1.2 million, as well as cover the $144,000 annual operating costs, some of which will be covered by user fees, said airport director Scott Smith.

County Judge Craig Doyal said he expects the airport to be an asset to the county by attracting more corporations.

The airport, soon to be known as Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport, conducted a survey in 2013 and found that, in 18 months, about 160 flights had cleared customs at a different facility before landing in Conroe, Smith said. The airport has about 61,000 takeoffs and landings each year, and they expect about 100 international flights to clear customs at the Conroe airport in the first year.

“It will be a cost savings for (clients) to be able to come in directly – preclude an intermediate stop, which is always costly,” he said, adding that most international flights that come into the airport are business or corporate flights conducting business in Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, Canada or elsewhere.