BURLINGTON — The Port of Skagit is remodeling Skagit Regional Airport to accommodate a U.S. Customs and Border Protection lease that is expected to start in September.

The installation of Customs will allow the airport to accommodate incoming international flights without having to redirect them to Bellingham International Airport or Boeing Field.

Patsy Martin, executive director at the Port of Skagit, said she expects time and money to be saved for companies that do international business in Skagit County.

“We have been working hard to become a really strong, vital business airport,” Martin said.

Andrew Entrikin, the port’s community outreach administrator, said the $75,000 renovation has the potential to provide economic opportunity and job growth for both the port and county.

“You break that down on how long they wait, that time is valuable ... that’s a huge incentive for a company to come not to only the Port of Skagit, but Skagit County,” Entrikin said.

Kevin E. Ware, the port’s commission president, said the economic benefit will outweigh the initial costs.

Skagit Regional Airport is already equipped with infrastructure and space that Customs can use, which has lowered costs.

Talks about leasing to Customs have been going on for about five years, Ware said.

“The Port of Skagit is about economic development and improvement,” he said. “And if we want to have international business, we need to have Customs at our airport.”

John Sternlicht, executive director of the Economic Development Association of Skagit County, said he welcomes this development, as it’s a great way to attract commerce.

— Reporter Eric Rosane: 360-416-2139, erosane@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Eric_SVH

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