Runway extension aims to fuel more business in Daviess County
A $1.5 million project at the Daviess County Airport is being billed as an important strategic advantage for in the region. A ceremonial groundbreaking took place Tuesday for the project that will extend the airport’s main runway to 5,000 feet, which officials say will allow the 130-acre airport to accept larger aircraft such as Gulfstream G300s and Bombardier Learjets.
Daviess County Councilor Matt Meredith says currently, larger jets have to use airports more than an hour away, which is “not convenient for executives on a tight schedule.”
Meredith told Inside INdiana Business that insurance companies for certain jets mandate a certain runway length that the airport currently doesn’t have.
“Most airports, if you’re not at least 5,000 feet, don’t even show up in those databases for those aircraft,” Meredith said. “We’ve had numerous instances where somebody wanted to charter a plane, and [the charter company said], ‘Well, we need at least 5,000 feet; we can meet you in Lawrenceville or Bloomington,’ when they really wanted to fly out of Daviess County.”
Officials cited the $84 million microelectronics campus at WestGate@Crane Technology Park in Odon, which broke ground last year, as one of the major developments that could benefit from the increased runway capacity as more companies come to the region.
“There’s no touching county that has a runway our length,” Meredith said. “So, for any business wanting to come into any of those communities, we’ll be the pinnacle for people coming into the area. And with all the stuff that’s going on at WestGate, we want them to coming into Daviess County, and we want to have that access. We want to be able to support them.”
The expansion, which has been years in the making, is being funded by the Daviess County Council and available airport funds. Meredith said despite many hurdles, now was the time to get the project going.
“Unfortunately, prices have gone up with everything, and we were at that point where it’s like, ‘If we don’t do it this year, if we don’t get that done this year, we’re probably not going to do it. So let’s just get it done.'”
Meredith said work on the expansion will begin in June and will take a quick 90 days to complete. As part of that, the airport will be closed for about 30 days, which officials tried to minimize as much as possible to create a lesser impact on businesses that already use the airport.
Airport Manager Erica Burkemper said the expansion could lead to more development at the airport, including the addition of new hangars.