Mid-Carolina Regional Airport sees continued growth in 2018

Published 12:05 am Monday, January 14, 2019

SALISBURY — In just two years, Rowan County’s Mid-Carolina Regional Airport has seen a number of changes.

It’s landed a new director, its name was changed, and it implemented a new set of minimum standards. Its runway has been improved, accommodating new amenities like a 15,000-square-foot hangar, conference room and more.

All were strides to communicate a message: Rowan County was and is ready and able to contribute to the growing aviation industry. And growth is just what the airport has seen in return.

According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, Mid-Carolina Regional Airport in 2018 accounted for 795 local jobs, $40.9 million in personal income through salaries, and $4.4 million in state and local taxes paid.

In 2016, the airport and its associated businesses accounted for just 710 jobs, $30 million in personal income, and $2.9 million in state and local taxes.

A similar increase can be seen in the airport’s total economic output, what Director Kevin Davis called the “overall economic driver of the airport”: its fuel sales, the revenues of companies based at the airport and everything in between.

This number came in at $98 million in 2016. In 2018, it was $142.4 million.

Davis credited these increases to growth in new and existing operations based out of Rowan’s airport: Strategic Moves, SouthtecAviation, Novant Health and the National Guard.

New amenities also have worked to attract tenants with newer aircrafts, he said, and the airport’s skydiving operation is growing as well.

“I think these numbers really show the growth of the airport,” Davis said. “It’s quite a bit of growth to have achieved in only two years, and it’s only going to continue. … It shows all the work from airport staff and support from our county commission is paying off.”

County Commissioner Craig Pierce said the growth is a continuation of efforts started in 2013, when the airport property was de-annexed by the city of Salisbury, allowing tenants to pay only county taxes rather than both county and city rates.

“It’s all showing the aviation community we’re serious about having them come here,” Pierce said.

Pierce said he and other county commissioners were inspired to dedicate time and resources to the airport’s growth after watching the successes of neighboring communities.

“I pay attention to what’s going on around us,” he said. “I watched the city of Concord balloon and prosper, and one of the big things they had invested in was their airport.”

The investments have resulted in major players establishing business out of Concord, he said, pointing to Amazon and Allegiant Air.

Investing in the county’s airport was one part of a multifaceted effort to bring similar successes to Rowan County.

“It’s not just one thing that you have to look at,” said Pierce. “You have to look at the whole package and see what pieces do we have and what pieces do we not. … (The airport) was just one piece of the puzzle to growing all of Rowan County.”