Airport to develop marketing plan
Posted: Friday, February 18, 2011 9:14 pm
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Everett-Stewart Regional Airport may hold one of the keys to Obion County’s future.
The county has owned the airport since 1947 but, in light of recent events, the airport has taken on a much more significant role in terms of economic development.
Work on the runway extension is ongoing, as are other improvements to the airport, and at the airport commission’s meeting Thursday night a clearer vision of a marketing plan emerged.
Airport Business Solu-tions president/CEO Michael Hodges met with the airport commission to outline how his company will be creating a marketing plan.
The Florida-based company has worked with hundreds of airports around the country, according to Hodges, who visited with airport and local economic development officials during the day Thursday.
“We’re really a diverse company,” Hodges said. “The focus of what we do is to help airports run like a business.”
Airport manager Jo Ann Speer told the airport board she and others showed the two ABS officials around the community and briefed them about the area. She said it was, “a very informative day.”
After touring the area and talking with local officials, Hodges told the airport board he was impressed with the area’s “tremendous infrastructure base.”
He also brought up the high level of community interest in the airport.
“That’s really a big first step,” he said.
Hodges went on to say that marketing the airport and the community to potential aviation businesses will be a “primary goal” and a “major challenge” for his firm.
“We’re going to hit on a lot of different areas … on a lot of ideas,” he said as he outlined how he and his staff will be developing a marketing plan. “We want your input during this process.”
“One of our primary missions for you is to develop a road map,” ABS senior vice president Randy Bisgard told airport commissioners.
He joined Hodges at Thursday night’s hour-long meeting. The airport conference room was filled with about 18 visitors, most of whom represented local and regional economic development agencies.
Obion County Mayor Benny McGuire was in attendance at the meeting, as he has been at most recent meetings that involve Obion County’s future following last week’s announcement by Goodyear that it will be shutting down its Union City plant by the end of the year.
The airport board spent about half of its meeting Thursday night discussing the proposed marketing plan that will be drafted by Hodges and his staff.
One of the key ideas that arose during the meeting was the possible development of about 700 acres of farmland around the airport that is owned by the county.
Bedford Dunavant described the airport’s 700 acres as a “sleeping giant.”
“There’s a lot of potential for the land in this area,” he told the airport board.
Already there is one business venture interested in setting up an aircraft maintenance service at the airport. Work on that project is ongoing, it was announced Thursday night.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by e-mail at kmbowden @ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 2.18.11