Airport Continues Recovery After March Tornado
Officials Wednesday also reported a strong June in terms of economic development potential for the county.
Officials Wednesday said Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport is through most of its restorations, on track with the fiscal year 2012 budget projections and refocusing on the upcoming Salute America 2012 air show.
Airport Director Blake Swafford gave a FY2012 budget overview, which he characterized as close to projections in almost every area aside from a few categories that were, not surprisingly, impacted by the March 2 tornado, which briefly interrupted airport operations and damaged several buildings at the site.
Swafford reported that the PCAA was nearly 25 percent below budget on expenditures and on target with income for FY2012.
Renovations from the March tornado have only recently concluded with final repairs made to the airport terminal building. But still under way is construction of the private hangars and the first commercial hangar. Swafford estimated completion on the commercial hangar by the end of the year.
Paulding Jet Center General Manager Jeff Beale updated fixed-based operator operations. Beale said that the private hangars being rebuilt since the tornado struck are now expected to be complete by September. Tie-downs of private aircraft are being offered at no charge in lieu of the completion of the hangars, Beale said, and added that the number of those has been increasing recently.
“The big thing is getting the hangars back up, which we pretty much have filled,” Beale said, and added that [some] previous tenants not coming back have been replaced, and hangars are expected to fill again after they are completed.
Beale also said that rising fuel costs have reduced flight time of private pilots, who are cutting out some of their “fun flying” as fuel costs continue to go up.
Paulding Air Show Committee member and organizer Kerry Tidmore said that show plans are gaining momentum after the storm recovery and related distractions have been overcome.
“We got some positive news with sponsors. Coca-Cola is onboard, Chick-fil-A. A lot of the details at the 90-day point—which is about where we are, 90 days to the show—are starting to fall into place,” Tidmore said.
A large array of vintage aircraft will be displayed and more military aircraft is in the works, Tidmore told the board, and added that he has calls out to contacts around the country and overseas as well.
Salute America 2012, Paulding airport’s first air show, is now just three months away and a website devoted to the show is accessible at pauldingairshow.net.
Gilbert reports strong development activity
The Industrial Building Authority Board also met Wednesday following completion of the airport authority meeting.
Swafford reported that ground is cleared for the site to locate a water tank that will be tied to airport operations. That project is expected to be completed later this year.
The corporate hangar project is moving forward, Swafford said, and may have some of its framework in place by next month. Completion is estimated by the end of the year.
Portions of the biopic of the life of Brooklyn Dodgers baseball great Jackie Robinson, 42, that were scheduled to be filmed on a soundstage at the Atlanta Film Studio in Hiram have been completed, Swafford told the board. 42 is the new facility’s first Hollywood project. IBA officials are also in the process of expanding office space in two units in the building next to it.
In May, IBA members approved the purchase of 120.4 acres at West Memorial Drive associated with its industrial park project for $550,000 from Wells Fargo Bank. That property is being rezoned from residential to industrial. The site is located in the county’s newly established opportunity zone and would qualify for incentives under the zone’s guidelines.
IBA officials are also talking to Panattoni Development Company regarding a 110-acre property on Bill Carruth Parkway intended as the site for a Paulding Commerce Park project. In industry terms, the project is seen as a “Class A” development, Swafford said. Panattoni Development Company is a commercial real estate development company specializing in industrial, office and retail projects.
Paulding Economic Development Director Jamie Gilbert reported what he characterized as “a tremendous amount of activity during the month of June,” with up to 32 projects and/or leads currently in the organization’s pipeline.
“I think what is happening is that our marketing of this community to our allies is really starting to pay off, and they’re hearing about these projects that are coming to Paulding County, and we’re making our presence known, and that’s exactly what we wanted,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert said important factors in recent activity can be attributed to the business recruitment strategy employed, and tax incentives available within the opportunity zone.
“They’re seeing a different Paulding County—one they never saw before—and its really starting to make a difference and it’s drawing interest of companies and our allies across the state,” he said.