NEWARK, NJ - Local and state officials joined Gov. Phil Murphy and the Port Authority on Wednesday to sign and top the final piece of steel on a new terminal at Newark Liberty International Airport.

Construction of a new Terminal A  — which will be referred to as Terminal 1  — began one year ago. Twenty-one gates are slated to open in 2021 with the terminal reaching full capacity the following year, Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole said.

O’Toole joined other officials in addressing the impact the new terminal and the potential for a second new Terminal B  — dubbed Terminal 2  — will have on the surrounding community by providing jobs and benefits to those who live in nearby Newark and Elizabeth.

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“We are going to transform this region,” O’Toole said.

State Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz said she was working with the Port Authority and Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo to develop a program that creates a curriculum for culinary and trade students in vocational schools in Newark, Elizabeth around the county that would give them opportunities to work some of the 22,000 jobs being created by the project.

“There could be a great cohesive approach from classroom into career immediately literally a couple miles outside of their school,” Ruiz said.

Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said one of the goals of the massive project is to provide job and potential business opportunities for locals in the surrounding area.

“You can never move the mega projects forward without support from the community,” Cotton said. “We’re committed to the community, we’re committed to benefits accruing to the neighborhood that surrounds Newark Airport.”

Murphy said that during his travels abroad as governor, he highlights the state’s location as a hub of roads, rails, bridges and airport travel that offers nonstop flights to a host of international cities and has direct access to midtown Manhattan.

“When we sell New Jersey, we sell talent and location,” Murphy said. 

The new terminals, Murphy said, “will only make that case more compelling.”