"Rockford will never be O'Hare, but what we envision is thatwe're kind of a relief house," Eric Voyles, VP of national businessdevelopment for the Rockford Area Economic Development Council,tells GlobeSt.com. "There's a lot of interest in continuing to growopportunities at O'Hare, but at the same time, O'Hare has a lot ofgrowth issues they're trying to work through. We offer companies anopportunity to grow in the Chicago market without having to dealwith the cumbersome nature and uncertainty of the planned expansionat O'Hare. We have the capacity now to serve any airplane that'sflying."

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Voyles says operating through Rockford can save company bothtime and money. He says the average taxi time at O'Hare is around15 minutes, while it takes that long at Rockford for a plane tocommit to land, land and taxi. "We're talking about hours or 15minutes," Voyles says. "When you talk about the costs of operatingan airplane, what is the true savings of operating out of Rockfordrather than O'Hare?"

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Tandem principal Paul Ahern says space at the Rockford facilityin development will cost about half of comparable space at O'Hare.Asking lease rates for the space will be around $10 per sf, net,Ahern says. "The air cargo business is going through a lot ofturmoil with the rise in fuel prices," Ahern says. "We are reallythe low-cost alternative in this sector and we're hoping we canattract business that way. There's been a lot of interest in thisproject."

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The first building to be constructed will offer 28-foot-highceilings, 20 exterior truck docks, parking for 100 cars andaircraft parking as needed. This first phase is expected to becomplete by December. The development could have up to five phasesdepending on tenant demand, Voyles says.

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Voyles says the space could be occupied by a diverse range oftenants. "It could be anything from a large aggregator that wantsto set up a regional or hub facility, to an independent operator orfreight forwarder that is looking for an opportunity to grow theirbusiness on the transportation side," Voyles says. "The more thatthe project began to look like a reality, the greater the interesthas been. Everyone is waiting to see if this thingmaterializes."

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Voyles says the Rockford airport is within 300 miles of Chicago,Milwaukee, St. Louis, Minnesota and Indianapolis, making it ideallysituated for receiving and dispensing time-sensitive air cargo tothose markets. Voyles says the area also offers the advantage ofcongestion-free transportation once cargo is off the plane. "If youunload around Chicago, once you get back on the interstate, you'removing at 15 miles an hour," Voyles says. "Within five miles of theRockford facility, you're going to be at 55 miles an hour moving.You're not going to be paying to sit in traffic." Additionallyaiding rapid transit of goods, Voyles says four railways travelthrough the area, and cargo clears through customs within two daysat Rockford, as compared to an average of three days at O'Hare.

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CB Richard Ellis is marketing the facility, which is beingconstructed by Leopardo Construction, of Hoffman Estates."Depending on how you look at the numbers, our airport is betweenthe 19th and 22nd largest air cargo airport in the country," Voylessays. "The ability to continue to grow into that air cargo, whetherit's package or heavy freight, is very, very strong."

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