Dallas, GA — The runway at Silver Comet Field in Dallas is almost deserted. A lone Cessna 172 is doing touch-and-goes, a training exercise used in pilot training. But even as the Cessna lands, accelerates and takes off again, both airport officials and the citizens who pay their salaries are confident that this $50 million airport will someday soon begin to pay off in terms of jobs – jobs that currently flee the county to other places across the metro area.
“The vast majority of the residents see the value in it,” said Airport Manager Blake Swafford.
And that could be the key to the future of both industrial development and commercial flight at this airport. While Propeller Investments faced crushing opposition in Gwinnett, it’s a done deal in Paulding. Papers have been signed, hands have been shaken and the first commercial flights are expected here by the end of the year.
“I’m proud of this little airport,” said George Delmar Cook, a resident of Paulding County for more than 50-years.
The 81-year old Cook said he firmly believes the airport will bring economic development to the county of the likes never seen before.
How can an airport bring that assurance to a county that, just 40 years ago, had one high school, two paved roads and a single stoplight?
Economic studies indicate that currently, about 78-percent of Paulding County residents travel to other cities and counties for work. That leaves Paulding with a paltry tax base. If the airport keeps its vaunted promise to bring more jobs here, that would mean more residents would stay home – as would their tax dollars.
“And that little airport would bring in people from other counties as well,” said Cook. “They’ll come from Cartersville and Carrollton and Douglasville and Rome. They’ll come to fly from here to other cities and they’ll come to work.”
Swafford said commercial air traffic – the bane of the Gwinnett County proposal as far as citizens were concerned, will only account for approximately 10-percent of the revenue Paulding County derives from this airport. Instead, he said, his vision of an aerospace research and manufacturing complex on the airport grounds will provide hundreds if not thousands of jobs and millions if not billions of dollars to the local economy.