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    New leadership and new construction have brought a lot of energy to St. Louis Regional Airport and it’s 600-acre business park in East Alton and Bethalto.
    A highlight of 2018 was West Star Aviation, under the leadership of new CEO Jim Rankin, wrapping up construction of new 60,000-square-foot hangar.
    The new facility brings West Star’s total footprint at St. Louis Regional Airport to more than 380,000 square feet. The latest building includes 20,000 square feet of office space for the growing company.
    “They just continue to keep growing, you can’t believe the national and international business coming in here,” said David C. Miller, director of aviation for St. Louis Regional. “We are delighted to see their new CEO headquartered here in Illinois.”
    Rankin moved to the West Star’s East Alton headquarters from the Oregon-based Columbia Helicopters. His predecessor, Bob Rasberry, moved to a position as chairman of the board while Rodger Renaud remains president and COO.
    The company’s proactive approach to strengthen the leadership team to ensure industry-leading service throughout rapid growth seems to be working. In May Pro Pilot Magazine readers voted West Star the No. 1 MRO in the nation for the fifth consecutive year,
    Increasing capabilities and services has been the goal for the expansion. This year’s additions included new certifications for Rolls-Royce and Honeywell engines and becoming a Cessna authorized independent non-destructive inspection facility.
    The public-private partnership between West Star and St. Louis Regional Airport continues to be strong. The airport is finishing up construction on a new ramp, which made it possible for West Star to build another hangar.
    The Airport Authority has already secured $1 million in federal funds and $50,000 in state funds to implement Phase II of the ramp construction in 2019.
    West Star rents the land on which its facilities are built from the St. Louis Regional Airport Authority. Development in the business park offsets the cost of airport operations allowing more jobs to be created in the region at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayers.
    In 2018 five new commissioners have joined the leadership team at St. Louis Regional. They are Chairman Wendell Ross, Secretary Robert Lamarsh, Larry Franklin representing Alton, Matt Maberry representing Bethalto, and Chris Herzog representing Madison County.
    Besides additional ramp capacity into the business park, projects for the next fiscal year include replacing pavement and drainage structures by the T-Hangars to make it safer for planes to access hangars.
    “This new team of commissioners is a well-rounded group with a strong emphasis in finance,” said Miller. “They are really community-focused and should be able to help the airport and the business park continue to grow.”