Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Posted: 10/07/2010 05:57:55 PM PDT

SAN BERNARDINO – The U.S. Department of Commerce will grant more than $5.5 million to help fund further improvements near San Bernardino International Airport and Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville.

Brian McGowan, a senior Commerce Department official, discussed the grants Thursday afternoon during a roundtable with local government and business figures at San Bernardino Community College District’s board room.

The Commerce Department’s Economic Department Administration has provided $14.6 million to assist both airports since 2008, McGowan said.

“The seed for the growth is planted but it’s the private sector that’s going to make it grow,” he said.

Most of the new grants are set to be spent in San Bernardino.

Plans call for $1.3 million to go toward a joint project between the Inland Valley Development Agency and San Manuel Band of Mission Indians for a drainage improvement project near the crossing of Third Street and Victoria Avenue.

Another $3.3 million is expected to be spent to refurbish a former Norton accounting and finance building in order to make the structure usable for commercial or light industrial purposes. The building is on Tippecanoe Avenue, south of Mill Street.

“We hope to get new tenants in there that will help to create new jobs,” said Alex Estrada, redevelopment and transportation director for the Inland Valley Development Agency.

The IVDA is charged with redevelopment of former Norton Air Force base land that surrounds SBIA. The area includes Stater Bros. Markets’ headquarters and several distribution centers.

Property tax revenues collected from IVDA territory have been used to finance improvements at the San Bernardino airport. The airport does not have regular passenger flights but it does have a new terminal, aircraft maintenance and painting firms, and a franchise of Texas-based Million Air serving private and charter jets.

The remaining money from the newly announced grants is set to finance a fuel farm at SCLA.

San Bernardino International and Southern California Logistics airports both started out as U.S. Air Force bases, but the military began a process of closing both installations in the latter days of the Cold War.

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