The U.S. Army could be using the Paulding County Northwest Atlanta Airport for a majority of the year.
Paulding Jet Center General Manager Joe Sarber told the airport authority at its meeting on Wednesday that Army officials indicated after doing a training operation at the airport recently that they would like to continue to use the facility and are looking to up their operations to six or seven a month with a variety of aircraft from C-130s, UH-60 helicopters and others, he said. FBO fuel sales associated with the army’s recent visit was at about 600 gallons, Sarber said.
Sarber also told authority members that the Paulding Jet Center is recovered from damages to hangar facilities from the March tornado and that almost all former hangar tenants have returned.
Also at the meeting, PCNAA Director Blake Swafford gave a mid-FY2012 budget overview, which he characterized as close to projections with profit/loss at about 50 percent.
Swafford also reported that a GAA/COI Legislative Breakfast in February will bring local aerospace groups and other officials together with lawmakers, providing an opportunity to help promote both the impact of aerospace companies coming to the state and to Paulding County.
Aerospace groups, including the Paulding Aerospace Alliance, will come together at the 3rd Annual Georgia Aerospace Legislative Breakfast to meet with Georgia legislators to educate them about the state's large and growing aerospace/aviation industry. This event is planned by the Georgia Aerospace Policy Working Group with support from the Georgia Center of Innovation for Aerospace.
Swafford said that Georgia has become a major player in the industry with national and even international presence. Officials also hope that incoming Congressman Tom Graves may be able assist in the future with establishing dedicated airport funding for the state, he said.
To continue its eligibility for federal funds the airport authority must stay on track with its Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). An LPA Group representative addressed the Board Wednesday regarding the FY14-19 CIP and covered some of the types of projects to be tackled over that period including adding corporate hangars, permanent fencing, runway extension, expansion of the terminal area, design of approach lighting, construction of a parallel taxiway and other projects.
Airport Director Blake Swafford characterized the CIP as ‘a planning document’ and added that “. . . the FAA requires us to submit this, but the one thing that is certain is that it will change,” he said.
The Board also decided to grant a request from McNeel Hangar for ground lease abatement due to damage from the March tornado. Owner Morgan McNeel was asking for whatever the Board would approve up to six months. The Board agreed to four months to help make up for lost time tied up in building reconstruction and waiting for pay-outs on insurance claims.
Industrial Building Authority
The Industrial Building Authority Board also met Wednesday following the completion of the airport authority meeting.
IBA Director Blake Swafford said that through January there are six projects pursuing the possibility of using the Hiram film facility and that by next month at least one of those may be confirmed. December is typically down-time in the industry. County officials are also looking at doing more to enhance the awareness of prospective clients where Paulding County is in relation to the metro area, which has, at first, been less well defined.
Swafford reported that the water tank, located at the airport and tied to airport operations, is now about 95 percent completed. Fencing and landscaping are due to be finished by next month. An additional phase of that project will consider the type of pipe and pump to be constructed and location for an additional tank at some point in the future, Swafford said.
Both the 120.4 acres at W. Memorial dubbed Dallas Industrial Park and the Paulding Commerce Park are moving forward, Swafford said. The design process is completed on Paulding Park and 95 percent of the grading work is done. Some work to entranceways will be done to accommodate truck traffic to the site. Mayor Boyd Austin said some street light work will be done at West Memorial Drive near the park.
And, the 110-acre property on Bill Carruth Parkway is going through a few design modifications. The project, which is seen as a “Class A” development, will serve as the Paulding location for Interroll, and is intended to break ground toward the end of January, Swafford said.
Paulding Economic Development Director Jamie Gilbert gave some year-end totals of projects and/or leads in the organization’s pipeline now and heading into 2013.
“The five-year goal is for 25 new businesses and $75 million in new investment,” Gilbert said. "For the year we had 76 prospects of which 46 were leads and 30 were projects. Out of that, five ended up locating to Paulding County. If you look at just 2012, with no carry-overs we had 42 prospects, of which 22 were leads, 20 were projects, and two are located, so if you look at the conversion rate we’re exceeding what’s considered the standard for the industry.”
Gilbert said that Paulding County is limited primarily by a lack of larger commercial space available and thus is competing to attract businesses doing new construction, which is more difficult since companies can choose anywhere to build.
But Gilbert also said that more aerospace companies are looking at Paulding County and more marketing to them is planned in the coming year.
“Right now out of ten active projects, six are aerospace companies, and only two of those would locate at the airport site, others would consider other locations such as one of the smaller office park spaces,” he said.