Thursday, September 22, 2011
City-county airport seeks hangar funds
By SUE WATSON
The Holly Springs-Marshall County Airport will apply for funds to construct six new hangars, according to manager Justin Hall.
He recently reported to the board of supervisors on projects and future plans to build the airport to meet expected demands of new growth coming to Marshall County.
Once the hangars are built, they will generate revenue both in rental space for planes as well as for the fuel farm. Hall said he has a list of pilots on the waiting list for hangars.
The six-unit T-hangars will each be self-contained with climate control and restroom facilities. Hall said the airport has tie-downs and some hangar space that is full up.
A Mississippi Development Authority revolving fund loan for 10 years at 3 percent could be applied for to raise the $150,000 matching funds for the loan, he said. Or a 15-year loan at 3.6 percent could be obtained from a local bank where loans can be tax-free, he said.
Hall said research into the feasibility of occupancy, once the hangars are built, looks good. The money generated from rent of the hangars would more than pay for the cost to repay the loan and it would also position the county for more business at the airport. Pilots calling from Olive Branch and Collierville, as well as overflow traffic from Oxford, would use the airport more, he said, if the hangars were available.
The next step in addition to building more hangars is to look for funds to extend the 3,200-foot runway to 4,200 and then on to 5,000 feet. The extensions would attract corporate jets. Olive Branch Airport has a 6,000-foot runway and Oxford has a 5,600-foot runway.
Bill Mobley, executive director of the Marshall County Industrial Development Authority, said the goal is to make the airport self-sufficient and to operate without having to rely on local funds from the city of Holly Springs and Marshall County.
Other assets at the local airport include a certified small jet mechanic shop in addition to propeller-driven small aircraft repair. John Jewel Aircraft Services has one of the best reputations for engine work in the United States as well as abroad, providing both aircraft inspection and aircraft maintenance and repair.
Mobley said the competition for these awards from MDA and the Mississippi Department of Transportation are extremely competitive with only 11 small airports out of 62 applications funded last year. The grants are only for projects that will generate revenue.
The board voted unanimously to approve the application for the hangar funds. The board of aldermen in Holly Springs also approved the project September 6.
Al Beck, member of the IDA board of directors, briefed the board of supervisors on the prospects for growth in the area and demand for airport services. The expansion of the airport would tie in with already approved projects such as I-269 construction, the Norfolk Southern intermodal rail yard in Rossville, Tenn., and the new road to the rail yard that extends to the Chickasaw Trail Industrial Park, he said.
“Some 10,000 jobs are expected to be in that area,” he said. “The board is more than well-aware of what we are doing. We need some support, if you can see your way to an increase of the IDA budget this year. Things are tough with 99 percent of the country suffering from lack of jobs and we want you to look favorably upon us this year at budget time.”
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