CANANDAIGUA — Extending the runway at the Canandaigua Airport will do more than just add a few thousand feet of pavement to the landscape.

According to local, federal and state leaders who gathered Wednesday to celebrate the start of construction, the extension will serve as an engine for economic and tourism growth.

Expanding the runway from 3,200 feet to 5,500 feet will allow corporate jets and a greater range of private planes to land there.

“Today is an incredible day for Ontario County and the Finger Lakes region,” Mike Manikowski, director of the Ontario County Industrial Development Agency, said in a press release. “This runway extension is the culmination of more than 20 years of hard work and effort, and the benefits it will bring to Ontario County are numerous.”

The IDA owns the airport. The construction is being funded through a $7 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Construction is expected to take at least a year, depending on the weather. If all goes well, the runway could be ready in late 2013.

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