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Air Force, officials break ground at Falcon Hill Aerospace Research Park

Dignitaries lift shovelfuls of dirt to commemorate the groundbreaking for the Falcon Hill Aerospace Development Park here Oct. 10. (U.S. Air Force Photo by James Arrowood)

Dignitaries lift shovelfuls of dirt to commemorate the groundbreaking for the Falcon Hill Aerospace Development Park Oct. 10 at the Hill Aerospace Museum. (Air Force photo by James Arrowood)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE -- Construction of the largest Enhanced Use Lease project in the history of the Department of the Air Force officially began Oct. 10 with a ground breaking ceremony held at the Hill Aerospace Museum.

Local dignitaries Gov. Jon Huntsman, Sen. Orrin Hatch, Rep. Rob Bishop, state Sen. Sheldon Killpack, local mayors and other community leaders assisted Maj. Gen. Kathleen Close, Ogden Air Logistics Center commander, in turning dirt for the 550-acre Falcon Hill National Aerospace Research Park.

"This event culminates many years of hard work and some pretty intense planning and unprecedented cooperation between the United States government, the state of Utah and our surrounding communities," General Close said.

The general also outlined the next phases of construction that will happen at Hill Air Force Base in the upcoming weeks. A new West Gate will be among the first structures to be built, located further east to accommodate the Falcon Hill project. Several new roads will also be built throughout the fall and winter. New buildings will be erected shortly for the Security Forces Squadron and Office of Special Investigations. The Missile Park will be moved to a new location yet to be determined.

Although the new structures will be built on non-excess land owned by the United States Air Force, the buildings will be owned by the developers and the facilities will not resemble the standard subdued military design. The buildings will be world-class design facilities that are environmentally-friendly, General Close said.

Civilian workers in these leased buildings will not have access to Hill AFB. A new access road will be laid near the West Gate to allow public access to the new structures, but the new West Gate location will prevent public access into Hill AFB.

It is estimated that 15,000 new aerospace industry jobs and approximately 60,000 additional jobs will be generated by the completion of the Falcon Hill project.

In his remarks, Gov. Huntsman compared the EUL project to the launch of a research park at the University of Utah 40 years ago. "It brought to the research park at the University of Utah some of the most forward-looking companies involved in biotechnology and health sciences," Huntsman said. "So here we stand today representing cities and state governments, representing military, private developers and private sector companies, and we've all come together around this common vision for what we know will be very good for the state and the Air Force."

Jeff Woodbury, managing partner for the selected developer, Sunset Ridge Development Partners, LLC., noted how the "herculean efforts" of today are investments in the future generation. "We want our children to have worthwhile jobs in this state and this is an opportunity for the private sector to invest in the humanity of this state."

Falcon Hill National Aerospace Research Park is one of the first EUL projects to reach the development phase. Other Air Force bases which will participate in EUL projects include Beale AFB and Edwards AFB, both of Calif., Luke AFB, Ariz., Malstrom AFB, Mont., Kirtland AFB, N.M., Eglin AFB, Fla., and Charleston AFB, S.C.