City/County Leaders Consider $2.3 million Airport Upgrade
SPRINGFIELD TENNESSEE: (Smokey Barn News) – Robertson County officials are looking at making a $2.3 million investment in the Robertson County Airport in Springfield. The landing strip is not the issue, it’s what people see after they land that is up for discussion.
Recently city and county leaders met to take a look at the Robertson County Airport to get a better understanding of the role the airport currently plays economically for Robertson county and what it might be able to do if improvements are made.
The argument is that Robertson County is losing business because of the airport’s outdated building terminal infrastructure. For many corporate executives the airport is the first thing they see when they arrive in a city. The concern is that the outdated appearance of the Airport and lack of resources will frankly scare away potential new industry considering Robertson County.
Other local airports, like Cleveland TN, Portland TN, and even Russellville KY have ponied up the dough to improve their airport terminals. See photos below… (continued)
To test the theory, Smokey Barn News reached out to US industry leaders to see if an airport really could scare them away. The consensus was, yes and no. If a city has something they really want, like natural resources or location, they will build an airport themselves if they have to. Otherwise an outdated airport can scare money away.
Most of the industry leaders we spoke to said having a major airport hub within 20 miles is a must, for Robertson County that’s the Nashville airport. Smaller local airports, like the Robertson County Airport, can save executives a ton of time getting them closer to the target for meetings, assuming the airport has a runway long enough to handle jets, the Robertson County Airport does.
Once they fly in they will expect an airport to offer private meeting rooms and other amenities. If the airport is run-down or outdated in appearance and function or it isn’t ready for them, it can be a direct reflection of the general infrastructure of the city or county and scare them away.
It comes down to this, big money has to land jets and when they do they need a place to meet, privately. If your airport is modern and up to date they won’t even see it, but if it’s old and run down or inadequate they may stop and start asking questions.
Smokey Barn News spoke to Wingnuts Aviation co-owner Chris Ferraraccio about the proposed new terminal and what it would mean for business in Robertson County. Ferraraccio says the current terminal is nothing more than an old lean-to and it scares potential business away.
“We’ve had an aviation architect come out and discuss our needs and design a terminal that would fit our purposes because right now we are operating out of a 50-year-old lean-to that is just not presenting a good image for Springfield/Robertson County.
“We (the airport) are the doorstep to industry and industry development. When industries come into Robertson County, they don’t take the Greyhound bus and they don’t drive in; they fly in with their corporate aircraft, their first look at Springfield and Robertson County, is the terminal and what we have right now is woefully inadequate.
We looked around and every single county around us over the past five years have built new terminals and modern accommodating facilities and we’re simply lacking.”
Tell me about the new terminal…….
“This new terminal will encompass a pilots lounge, a flight planning area, reception area and a front desk to greet the customers. There will be two conference rooms, one that will accommodate 12 to 15 people, and another conference room that will accommodate about 120.
The larger room will offer multi-purpose attributes such as a food preparation area for catering and multi-media equipment. It will make the new terminal conducive to executives that come in where time is money. They could land, conduct their business right there and leave, no need to come all the way in to town.
“It also allows anonymity for companies trying to stay under the radar (no pun intended) of other businesses. They can look at whatever properties they want in private without being seen in the community while they develop their ideas.”
What would be the cost of the new terminal and who would pay for it?…..
“The facility is earmarked at about 2.3 million and that does contain a 10% contingency fund. We are looking at attaining $350,000 from local corporations to help get the ball rolling. We’re going to get another $350,000 from state and federal monies. So we’re looking at approximately $825,000 each from the city and from the county.
“Bear in mind we do not have an operating budget that the city and the county contribute to. We are self-sufficient and self-sustaining, the airport does not take money. The only time we ever come to the city and the county is for capital improvements, and this is one of those times.
“It should’ve been done 3 to 5 years ago but it’s now time to catch up and do it. It should be about a $250 per square-foot endeavor, and that is in line with commercial construction right now because of the boom in construction in Nashville. If we had done it four years ago, it would’ve been in the 1.8 1.9 million area.
It’s not about profitability for the airport, it’s about profitability for Springfield and Robertson County……
“Right now you have about 75% of Robertson County leaving the area to go to work. How about we get some more jobs in-county and have these people stay and work in their own community and have that money stay here.
“The companies/corporations that come to our community and are looking to develop here are looking to have a professional looking airport.
“We don’t want to look like Petticoat Junction. I’ll remind the readers that in 1965 this Airport was started solely because at the time the largest bicycle manufacturer in the country came to Springfield looking to move their operations here and they did not because Springfield did not have an adequate airport.
“So here we find ourselves in 2016/2017 really looking for history to repeat itself. We’re the doorstep, we’re the front door to the community when they come. Just like when you go to the doctors office and it’s in a trailer, you’re not going to want to go see the doctor.
“If you’re coming to Springfield with your multi-billion-dollar business and you come into the airport and it’s operating out of a lean-to, you’re going to be hesitant to develop there.
“The airport is part of the infrastructure of the community, it’s no different than paved roads and sewer systems.
“You don’t build an airport to be revenue producing but by having good airport infrastructure you pave the way for new businesses.
“The idea of the new terminal was presented to the Robertson County Commissioners and the Springfield city alderman recently, I think they understand the necessity of having a good presentation at the airport as it relates to bringing in business. It’s just a matter of them figuring out a way to fund the project.”
Robertson County Mayor, Howard Bradley is on the same page as Chris Ferraraccio. “I’m excited about the prospect of a new terminal at the Springfield/Robertson County airport because that is the gateway to our community for companies.
“For many people that don’t use our airport they don’t realize what an asset that it is. To be able to have a facility there where companies can come, fly in from all over the country and indeed all over the world, and have their meetings there without having to take time to get in the car and to go into a facility (in town) someplace is a tremendous asset for those companies and for our community. I think it’s a giant step forward for the airport.”
Springfield Mayor Ann Ann Schneider also agrees that a new terminal could be good for local commerce. “By building the new terminal I know it will bring economic growth to our companies here in Robertson County and surrounding areas and I hope we can make this work.”
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