Airport Plays Significant Role in Economy
On one hand, the economic impact of Moore County Airport can be found in dated statistics.
The Institute for Transportation Research and Education, a division of N.C. State University, conducted an independent study in 2006 that found the annual impact to be more than $86 million.
“That’s not chump change,” said Patrick Coughlin, president and CEO of the Moore County Chamber of Commerce.
Indeed, and one can only imagine how large that number is today.
“There would be a big hole in our economy without the airport,” Coughlin said. “It plays a more important economic role than a lot of people realize.”
On the other hand, the economic potential of the airport remains to be seen.
“In my opinion, the airport is underutilized and has much more potential to bring new business and opportunities to Moore County,” said Pat Corso, executive director of Partners in Progress, the county’s economic development arm. “I think the airport could be a catalyst for economic growth.”
For example, Corso believes that the airport is “our best opportunity” to attract military contractors looking to locate near Fort Bragg.
“The airport could become a substantive economic impacter,” he said. “I’m not trying to imply it’s not now. But in terms of the game we’re in, it could become much more of a player.”
The future vision and strategy for the airport is up to the Moore County Airport Authority, which is charged with airport maintenance and operations.
The authority is on the verge of undertaking four projects — including expanding the runway from 5,500 feet to 6,500 feet — in the next two years at a collective cost of about $8 million.
The majority is being funded by the Federal Aviation Administration. The authority is on the hook for 10 percent, which will come from the county’s hotel occupancy tax and airport contributions from day-to-day operating revenues.
“We’re changing to meet the future needs of aviation,” Airport Director Ron Maness said.
The authority laid out the airport’s economic benefits during a public information meeting last Saturday that was conducted in a hangar adjacent to the terminal.
Maness stressed that the airport is operated and managed as a business, not a governmental agency.
“We are self-sufficient and have an annual budget of about $4 million that is funded by revenue sources such as fuel sales, hangar rental, maintenance and aircraft fees,” Maness said. “To the maximum extent possible, we also support local businesses through our purchases of things like insurance, landscaping, catering and IT support. The airport plays a vital economic role in this community.”
Maness noted that pilots who base their aircraft at Moore County Airport spent $855,203 in the last fiscal year in fuel, maintenance and hangar rental, among other things.
“And the property tax value of the planes based here was about $14 million. That money went directly to the county,” he said.
Maness also pointed out that the authority will soon use internal funds to “dress up the airport.”
“The appearance of the airport is critical,” he said. “We are the gateway to Moore County for any aviator or visitor who comes through here.”
Here’s hoping that the airport soars to new heights.
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at email@example.com.
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