By Marthe Stinton
January 24, 2011
An airport might just seem like a simple necessity for a growing business community, but it’s importance and role in greeting and attracting new businesses has been helping McKinney and Collin County take off in more ways than one.
“We greet business decision makers, celebrities, political leaders and families who chose to fly rather than drive to the North Dallas region,” Wiegand said.
The Collin County Regional Airport has been the main hub for the region’s big business flights since 1979. More than 40 percent of the flights to the Collin County Regional Airport are training, private and recreational flights and the remaining 60 percent are corporate or business-owned and operated flights, making the airport the gateway to the North Texas Region.
Airport director Ken Wiegand said the airport acts as a “regional concierge” to private citizens and business gurus across the country.
Wiegand said the most successful businesses in the world use aircraft as business tools to reach their customers, transport critical parts and components.
“These aircraft are flying offices that save valuable resources, like employee time away from the office or home, and generate profits by getting to a business deal ahead of their competition,” he said. “Commercial passenger flights are a terrible waste of business resources, are relatively more uncertain and expensive when you weigh the benefits of having complete control over your own air transportation.”
CCRA currently offers more than 105 full-time aviation-related jobs, with an estimated direct payroll of $5.6 million per year. More than 20,000 annual visitors allow the airport to support an additional 120 jobs and $2.5 million in payroll. General aviation visitors are also responsible for over $4 million in direct output. When combined, general aviation businesses, tenants and visitors are responsible for $65.7 million in total economic output, approximately 470 full-time jobs, and $13.1 million in payroll, according to its website.
Construction at the airport has been near constant since opening in 1979. It has grown from 150 acres to 745 acres and the runway has been expanded twice. It is now 7,001 feet long and was rehabilitated in 2007 to support heavier aircraft. Construction is still underway.
“When completed in late 2012, it will have the capability to support numerous operations of the largest private and commercial aircraft in the world, which might attract commercial passenger service,” Wiegand said. “Construction of a $2.5 million replacement airport traffic control tower will be completed next month and we are marketing hangar pad sites that no other airport in the Dallas area can match.”
The control tower is nearly complete with operations set to begin in February. The replacement runway is scheduled for completion by December 2012.
Wiegand said new constructions are simply the airport’s way of preparing for the future. Other projects include a commercial grade runway that will support larger business aircraft and future commercial flight operations and allow our current runway to become a heavy-duty taxiway and emergency runway.
Other improvements for private businesses at the airport include new taxi lanes that allow aircraft to access hangars, aeronautical service-based business sites and additional land acquisition to protect future growth projections. Wiegand said these are all critical components of the development plan.
“These are all part of a development plan that began eight years ago and will be completed with the completion of our new runway,” Wiegand said. “We must have an adequate runway and taxiways, aircraft parking ramps, and terminal facilities that properly represent our regional community not just the city of McKinney.”
Source: STAR COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER