PCED Staff Note: This week’s post is part of a series on evaluating site selection factors from a local perspective titled, “Site Selection Factors”. The aim of the series is to outline the criteria used by companies to determine where they will build new facilities or expand existing ones. We will examine the top 10 factors as adapted from Area Development Magazine’s, “The Top Factor’s to Navigate the Location Maze”¹. Those factors, listed in order of priority, are as follows: Availability of Skilled Labor, Highway Accessibility, Quality of Life, Occupancy or Construction Costs, Available Buildings, Labor Costs, Corporate Tax Rate, Proximity to Major Markets, State and Local Incentives, Energy Availability and Costs. Guest bloggers will contribute each week from their area of expertise. Some topics may span multiple weeks.
Person County Airport
You may have heard it said, “A mile of highway will take you just one mile, a mile of runway will take you anywhere”. Well, from the largest to the smallest, each of the 62 public-use General Aviation airports in North Carolina contributes to the economic well-being of North Carolina businesses, residents, and visitors, and the Person County Airport is no exception.
In fact, a 2016 North Carolina Department of Transportation Division of Aviation study of the Economic Impact of Airports in North Carolina reported that the total annual economic output of General Aviation airports in North Carolina is over $4 billion. Through direct, indirect, and induced impacts, Person County Airport accounts for over 200 jobs and nearly $68 million dollars of economic impact annually. This bears testament to the importance of sustaining, maintaining, and improving North Carolina’s air transportation system and the Person County Airport.
The current Master Plan for the airport was completed in 1987; since that time, the aviation industry and airport regulatory environment have changed significantly. In addition to nationwide changes in the aviation industry, the evolution of Person County and the region over the last 30 years has made it crucial for the County to update the 1987 Plan and closely examine how well the airport meets the needs of the community, its tenants, and the local and transient visitors who account for over 30,000 aircraft operations to and from the Person County Airport annually.
The County is currently in the process of developing a new Airport Master Plan which will provide the County, Airport Commission, and the North Carolina Division of Aviation with a framework to meet current FAA Airport Design Requirements and guide future airport development in a manner that will satisfy aviation demand at the airport for the next 20 years and beyond.
The plan will include developing alternatives that evaluate the Airport’s proposed facility requirements to ensure Person County remains a viable and safe airport. The assessment of facility requirements includes major components such as: Airfield Pavements (Runways/Taxiways), Buildings (Terminal/Aircraft Storage Hangars), Navigational Equipment, and Airfield Lighting, among others.
Regarding airfield pavements, the plan will identify the runway length and strength necessary to safely accommodate the most demanding aircraft that make normal use of the airport. This analysis takes into consideration the elevation and average temperature of the airport, runway conditions, and the operating weight of the aircraft. As seen in the photo, Person County is a destination for sophisticated corporate business aircraft which require proper facilities to serve them.
The 2015 Airport System Plan Update prepared for the NCDOT Division of Aviation presented airport performance objectives for each airport based on its grouping. Within the system, Person County is recognized in the “Blue” group of airports which identifies the airport as a “Community Airport with Business Aircraft Capability. Per the airport’s master record, Person County Airport has 38 based aircraft and experiences nearly 35,000 operations annually. Over 50% of these operations are conducted by transient aircraft who fly to Person County from outside the local area and use the airport for business, recreation, or flight training activities.
The Airport Master Plan Update will ultimately provide the County with a strategy to help the airport best meet its objectives and a primary product of the Master Plan will be a new Airport Layout Plan (ALP) for the airport. The ALP is a prerequisite for obtaining grant funds from the FAA for airport capital improvements, as well as other actions that may require FAA approval. The ALP is a document approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) who requires the airport sponsor (Person County), to maintain a current ALP.
¹ “The Top Factors to Navigate the Location Maze.” Area Development, Volume 51, Number 4, Q42016, pp. 24-36.
Mr. Ray Foushee
Director of Person County General Services
This post was submitted by Mr. Ray Foushee, Director of General Services for Person County and the primary staff responsible for the Person County Executive Airport. Mr. Foushee has been in Production Management at various textile companies such as Collins & Aikman and Burlington Industries and has worked for Person County as General Services Director since 2010.