A major commercial and cargo jet repair and maintenance center will be built at the Chicago Rockford International Airport next year and will employ about 500 people within two years of opening in early 2016. This is a massive economic deal.According to TransformRockford.org the airport will build a $40 million, 200,000-square-foot maintenance, repair and overhaul facility — commonly called an MRO — to be leased by Wood Dale-based AAR Corp. the largest MRO operator in North America.

Rockford, Winnebago County and the airport will share half of the $40 million tab to build the facility. State and federal funds will cover the rest, Dunn said. AAR is expected to sign a seven-year lease with options for renewals.

It’s an economic development win that’s been years in the making and wouldn’t have been possible without Rock Valley College’s decision this year to build a larger aviation training center at the airport and triple the number of its students who graduate each year as FAA-certified aviation mechanics according to sources.

The MRO will require twin 9½-story hangars large enough to house Boeing 747-8 jets — the largest commercial aircraft built in the United States.

The Rockford area is home to more than 100 suppliers to the aerospace industry and an MRO could become a magnet for more. MROs are attractive to air cargo operators, and having one here could bring more aviation, logistics and warehousing jobs.

The MRO could have a $63.1 million annual economic impact on the region when it is fully operational and employing 500 workers. The construction alone, expected to begin next spring, is expected to create 550 jobs in the Stateline area.

This is just what the area needs to help our local economy take off. Congratulations Rockford.