Commissioners set to approve contract for office at airport

Published 12:15 am Sunday, July 12, 2015

By Josh Bergeron

Its first flight out of the Rowan County Airport is history, and construction on a corporate headquarters for Strategic Moves LLC won’t be much longer.

Rowan County Commissioners on Tuesday are set to approved the company’s lease and $60,000 for Salisbury-based Ramsay-Burgin-Smith Architects to oversee construction of 4,200 sq. ft. of office space for Strategic Moves’ corporate headquarters. Commissioners will consider both items as part of a called meeting at 9 a.m. on Tuesday in the Rowan County Administration Building.

Ramsay-Burgin-Smith beat three other architecture firms — Charlotte-based ADW Architects and Davidson-based J3H Architects — in a bid for the office construction.

Strategic Moves, a private charter company currently based in Statesville, announced in April it would relocate to Rowan. As part of the move, the company will receive $50,000 in “up-fit assistance” and a discount on gasoline after meeting certain, pre-determined thresholds.

Commissioners Chairman Greg Edds estimated the company would officially begin operating its corporate headquarters at the Rowan County Airport in January 2016. For now, the company has an interim lease for a hangar at the airport, Edds said. The permanent lease will be $7,000 per month for a hangar and the adjacent office space.

“The airport is an economic engine that creates significant opportunities for our county,” Edds said. “And, this is just the beginning.”

No price has been determined for the company’s office facility, Edds said. The design by Ramsay-Burgin-Smith would, instead, help determine a final cost.

Commissioners’ scheduled meeting comes on the heels of an announcement that Strategic Moves is already operating at the airport. This week, the company moved its newest aircraft to the airport and took to the skies from Rowan County’s runway. The plane is a new addition to Strategic Moves’ fleet. Instead of putting the plane at Statesville’s Airport and later moving it, Strategic Moves made the Citation XLS — a nine passenger jet — the first to call Rowan County home.

“We are very pleased that our fleet continues to grow on the cusp of our highly-anticipated move to Rowan County,” said Steve Setzer, the company’s president.

When the company makes its final move to Rowan, it’s projected to be the largest private company at the airport, with 15 to 17 employees.

The move could result in additional Rowan residents, or new jobs, but Edds consistently touts the tax benefits of aircraft.

“One airplane pays the taxes of 20 or 30 houses, but they have no children to educate and they don’t use our public services or roads,” he said.

Boosting the strength of the airport helps diversify Rowan County’s economy, he said.

Another benefit, Edds said, is the potential for companies already based at the airport to service Strategic Moves’ aircraft. Local companies using Strategic Moves’ charter service is another possibility, Edds said.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.