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SOUTHPORT-OAK ISLAND—The Brunswick County Airport has received $400,000 in earmarked federal funds.
The funds are in the nation's new budget, U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre recently announced, to help with a final runway extension of 5,505 feet.
Airport director Howie Franklin said the extension would allow executive jets to land at the airport, bringing in more revenue and more airport-based businesses catering to clients.
According to a state economic development study released last year, the Brunswick County Airport provides $26 million in revenue each year, and that number could increase to $56 million with the runway expansion.
That’s why the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Division of Aviation recommended the expansion and is using money from the Aviation Trust Fund to help pay for the improvements.
Franklin said this week the airport is scheduled to advertise for bids for relocation of Airport Road Jan. 27. Bid opening is set for Feb. 25. Completion is expected Dec. 18.
Work on the intersection of Airport Road and Long Beach Road will be halted until after Labor Day, Franklin said. The runway extension should be finished by 2010.
Government estimates say it will cost about $21 million to extend the runway, add another taxiway and complete other necessary expansions. The money is coming from both state and federal sources. Brunswick County and the towns of Oak Island and Southport will provide 10 percent matching funds.
The extension would make the 45-year-old airport an executive jet airport, qualified to bring in large executive jets that are trying to get in now, Franklin said.
“No matter what, we’re going to continue to make money and bring money and jobs into the area,” he noted.
Right now, two aircraft maintenance shops, an aircraft paint shop that recently received permission to build three more buildings, a banner towing company, an air tour operator, a Hertz rental car agency, an aircraft interior
shop and even a bait and tackle shop are at the airport.
“These people are all busy, all making a profit, paying taxes, making house payments. All that will expand,” Franklin said.
“We still continue to sell a lot of fuel and still continue to take in more money than we spend.”
In addition to executive jets, the expanded runway would allow large cargo planes carrying medical supplies in case of emergencies such as hurricanes.
In a news release, McIntyre stated, “The Brunswick County Airport is an economic engine for our area. These funds will help this coastal airport continue to grow and thrive, and I am pleased to help bring our taxpayer dollars back home to make a difference.
“With the tremendous growth being experienced by this area, there has been a great need for this expansion,” he said.