Expansion could come at Mid-Carolina Regional Airport

Published 12:10 am Sunday, November 26, 2017

By Andie Foley

Less than a year after the completion of a 15,000-square foot corporate hangar at Mid-Carolina Regional Airport, further expansion is being discussed.

On Monday, Nov. 20, Rowan County commissioners spoke of a constant and growing need for smaller hangar spaces. Airport officials have been discussing this expansion for over a year.

Chairman Greg Edds said plans have been waylaid as the airport advisory board tries to evaluate the best way for the facility to expand. Specifically, the board is weighing investments and constructions that will best suit both potential customers and Rowan County tax payers.

Do they want to build another corporate hangar that could hold $15 to $20 million of taxable capital, or 10 smaller t-hangars that would hold between $500,000 and $1 million?

Discussion was spearheaded by commissioner Craig Pierce. He attends airport advisory meetings regularly and said the airport has had a constant waiting list for two years.

He said that the airport was meant to increase Rowan County’s tax base, fuel sales and lease space, acting as an “economic engine” for our community.

“I know we’re missing a lot of opportunity,” said Pierce. “I know that we want to grow our airport, but we’ve got to grow it with the people that are coming. What’s coming right now is the smaller aircrafts …”

Pierce requested that the board pursue an updated estimate for the construction of the smaller hangar. This was priced last year at $2.1 million.

He also sought information regarding grant funding for the aprons, runoffs and taxi ways around the potential structure.

“That’s a major portion of any time you do these t-hangars,” he said. “The asphalt around it’s a big cost also.”

Other commissioners felt that seeking this information should be the decision of the airport advisory board – though Pierce was quick to point out a lack of action since that first quote was received.

“My real concern is that after a year the airport advisory board has made no recommendation … on what they want to do,” Pierce said. “… This is strictly to say it’s time for you guys to tell us what to do so that we can move forward. What are we going to do to get people here?”

Edds disagreed, wanting to verify the authenticity of need for smaller aircraft hangars.

“I’d feel more comfortable letting it come from the airport board being fully vetted and then letting the airport board and directors say to us this is what we want, here are the math reasons why,” Edds said. “Here’s the returns, the costs, the payoffs. This is why we’re moving ahead.”

Kevin Davis, the director of Mid-Carolina Regional Airport, said the reason for thorough evaluation stemmed from new developments.

“We do have a lot of different options,” he said. “… In the one year since this was brought before the board … a lot has changed at the airport.

“We have a lot of exciting opportunities … and I think we need to take a step back and look at all those opportunities, figure out which ones are going to generate the best option for the community … “

In the end, the board of commissioners agreed to task the airport advisory board, director and county manager with the procurement of estimates and available grant funds.

This information – and more identifiable goals for expansion – should be available by the Board of Commissioners meeting held Jan. 15.