The city will pay Burns & McDonnell nearly $1.3 million to begin engineering and architectural work on a new terminal for Columbia Regional Airport.
The consultant is tasked with assembling a document that will guide another firm the city will choose to actually design and build the terminal.
"The document will provide information for spatial requirements, functions, features and general requirements for the building and the surrounding infrastructure," a memo to the City Council said.
The council approved an agreement with Burns & McDonnell on Monday night.
The city will pay for the work through its airport terminal account, which includes transportation sales tax money, general fund savings and enterprise revenue.