HAZELWOOD, Mo. – The city of Hazelwood was in a deep financial hole, but is beginning to see some light thanks to projects like the Aviator Business Park, a 155-acre development off North Lindbergh Boulevard at the site of the abandoned Ford plant.

Hazelwood had been flirting with bankruptcy at one point.

“It was a really big deal when the Ford plant closed and we had to figure out what we wanted to do, and we were able to come up with a development agreement with Panattoni for them to come in a clean up the site,” Hazelwood City Manager Matthew Zimmerman said.

Ford employed more than 2,000 people at the Hazelwood plant and generated over $3 million a year in revenue for the city.

“To see all that close and leave was pretty scary for our community,” Zimmerman said. “But we’ve survived it, we’ve had a lot of success in a lot of areas. We were able to grow some of that revenue back and some of those jobs back.”

And though the area doesn’t have as many employees or generating the kind of income that Ford once had, the business park is bustling instead of sitting stagnant, and producing some money for the city.

“We have been able to get out of the hole for a variety of reasons. Obviously, the federal pandemic money was a huge part of that,” Zimmerman said. “But yes, absolutely, all of our industrial parks, which started with Aviator, has helped us get out of that hole as well.”