runway extension project
By Rachel Shirey
Henry County Commission Chairman Tommy Smith cut the ceremonial red ribbon on the Henry County Airport Runway Expansion Project on Aug. 29, surrounded by fellow Commissioners, and representatives with the Federal Aviation Administration, Georgia Department of Transportation, State Representative Andy Welch (District 110), GDOT Representative for District 13 Dana Lemon and Ron Burckhalter, Henry County Capital Projects Director and Airport Manager, as well as Croy Engineering and E.R. Snell. About 150 people attended the celebration.
#At least, that’s what Steve Justice, director of the Center of Innovation for Aerospace for the Georgia Department of Economic Development, said at the Henry County Airport ribbon cutting ceremony last week.
#The Henry County board of commissioners held the ceremony Aug. 29 at the Henry County Airport to celebrate the completion of Phase I of the runway expansion.
#“The completion of the airport is big news for this community,” Communications Director Julie Hoover-Ernst said. “About 150 people came out for the ceremony, all of whom were very excited to see the county move forward with making this investment in Henry County’s economic future a success. We just want to ensure that the public is aware that Henry County is not going to let the airport flounder — as the completion of this first phase demonstrates, we are absolutely moving forward with plans to make it a true economic engine for this community.”
#County officials said the improvements are expected to improve the safety and accessibility of the airport and is expected to stimulate economic growth in the community.
#“This is only the beginning,” explained District 2 Commissioner Brian Preston. “I am hopeful in the next few years that we are going to have more and more opportunity to show the success Henry County offers to the business community as well as to the world, because we’re a true player in this new global marketplace.”
#The project involved adding 1,000 feet in length to the existing runway, and widening it by 25 feet. The new runway is now 5,503 feet long by 100 feet wide, which exceeds the minimum threshold required by many insurance companies.
#The improvements are expected to encourage greater use of the facility, as well as more fuel sales, because the runway is now long enough for most planes to take off with a full tank of gas, officials said.
#The total cost of the expansion project was $3,044,664, with Henry County paying more than five percent of the cost.
#The balance of $2,881,559 was funded by the Federal Aviation Administration and Georgia Department of Transportation.
#County officials said they hope the improved airport will better equip Henry County to attract corporations requiring nearby airfields for their operations and stimulate economic development.
#Officials also suggested the county will benefit from increased taxes for aircraft housed at the airport, as well as fuel sales and other aviation investments that will add to the local tax base.
#“Delta Airlines had very humble beginnings as a crop spraying service over 70 years ago,” Justice said. “What future industry powerhouses are we nurturing with our local and state economic development programs today? Local airports and industrial sites are a catalyst for that growth, supported by programs at the state level.”
#Justice went on to explain that Henry County is well positioned between two major aviation clusters at the Atlanta airport and middle Georgia that contract billions of dollars of aviation products and services each year.
#“It is interesting to note that while the Atlanta airport accounts for over $30 billion in economic impact, the other 103 airports have almost an equal impact – about $30 billion a year to the state’s economy,” Justice said. “So, airports like this one are very important to both to the local and the state economy.”
#Henry County purchased Tara Field from Clayton County in 2011, paying $2.7 million of the $17.7 million cost, with the Federal Aviation Administration funding the balance.
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