WILMINGTON -- The Wilmington International Airport has a $1.6 billion dollar economic impact on the Cape Fear Region, and it’s only expected to grow in the coming years.

United Airlines is slated to begin flights in Wilmington to and from Chicago and Washington D.C. in April.

Airport officials said they saw more than 836,000 passengers last year. Those numbers appear to be on the rise. To keep up with the demand, ILM is designing a $60-80 million dollar expansion project.

Nearby shops we spoke with said they believe the changes will help their business.

"It'll expand our business for sure. We will get a lot of new customers coming in and out. We get a lot of regulars that are actually pilots flying out. They stop in and get breakfast before they go. More pilots, more money," said Sam Johnson, Scratch on 23rd.

United will join Delta and American Airlines at ILM.