OCALA, Fla. -- The Ocala city council accepted the first half of a $2 million grant to build a new aviation terminal at Ocala's International Airport.

As part of the project, the city will match the $2 million to build a 25-thousand sq. ft terminal that will bring airport services together under one roof.

Martin Guerra is one of the flight instructors at Ocala Aviation and says a new terminal at OCF comes at a time when the industry is booming.

"The aviation industry for us, in the U.S. and internationally is growing."

Proof, he says, is at the flight school - which markets themselves to international students.

"We have students waiting down in Ecuador and Colombia to come in," he explains, "waiting for some of the students here to finish because we don't have the needs to accommodate them."

As part of the project, Ocala Aviation will move to the current hangar occupied by Sheltair - the airport's fixed base operator.

"Everything comes down to space," Guerra says. "With more space we can accommodate more students."

In addition to putting more pilots in the cockpit, some say a new airport terminal will help put Ocala International Airport on the map.

"The majority of the visiting people coming to Ocala have to come through a front door somewhere on the airport," OCF director Matt Grow explains.

Grow has been working for the past 10 years on getting the funding to build the new terminal that will centralize the airport's services and be the first impression of those flying to the city.

This terminal will be the centerpiece...their first impression of Ocala and we want to make sure its a fantastic first impression."

He says the project will allow the airport to accommodate growing businesses not only on the tarmac but throughout the city.

"We want to be able to accommodate business aviation needs, recreational pilot needs and the flight school is growing."

Guerra says hopefully make Ocala known for more than just derby winning horses.

"Ocala's going to be known for good horses but for good flight training internationally."

Terminal designs will be completed by May 2016, with constructed slated to start in the fall.


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