Queen Creek officials invited residents Saturday to Williams Gateway Airport to see how their investment is coming along.
The town is a partner with Mesa, Gilbert and the Gila River Indian Community in the economic development project to convert the former Williams Air Force Base into a full-service airport and business park.
Town officials hoped the open house would foster greater tolerance of airport noise, which has increased as Williams Gateway has gotten busier.
"Remember that some of the businesses that are causing the noise are actually doing something good for you," Queen Creek Mayor Wendy Feldman-Kerr told an audience of more than 50 during a presentation about airport activities.
Williams Gateway Airport Authority executive director Lynn Kusy said airport businesses and schools currently employ about 3,000 workers, with annual economic impact of $114 million in 1999, the most recent year measured.
Kusy said the goal is to create 13,000 jobs and nearly $1 billion in yearly contributions to the local economy.
He added that airport officials are taking steps to put greater restrictions on tenant noise and are considering a multimillion-dollar structure to shield the public from engine-testing noise.
Albert McHenry, dean of technology and applied sciences at Arizona State University East, said the new campus has experienced phenomenal growth and that it, too, will be a major source of employment for the area.
"The number of jobs are not a pipe dream," McHenry said. "They are real."
Queen Creek residents Mike and Skye Croke said they are excited about opportunities Williams Gateway might bring, especially since Mike Croke, 35, is a mechanical engineer who commutes to a machine shop near Mesa’s Falcon Field.
Skye Croke, 29, said she and her husband are airplane "geeks" who actually enjoy the recent increase in air traffic.
"We don’t mind (the noise) at all," she said.