Tallahassee Regional Airport enters 2014 with a renewed flurry of construction activity, plans for terminal improvements and will likely have a new director of aviation soon to oversee those activities and others.
And Thursday, representatives from Imagine Tallahassee are expected to make their final pitch that the airport become the center of an economic development plan to create a commercial hub supported by aviation, real estate and business expansion.
The plan’s proponents maintain that TLH remains the key to furthering the region’s economic development. It can serve as a generator of activity not only as air service grows and airport access gets better, but as the 1,000 acres of unused airport property available become business locations.
Sue Dick, a member of the Imagine Tallahassee Steering Committee, serves on the Airport Advisory Committee and is president of the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce. Major aircraft manufacturers, she notes, have established operations in Mobile, Jacksonville, Melbourne and Atlanta – giving Tallahassee a central vantage point.
“I think we are in a great position. We are within 400 miles of four of the major maintenance facilities that are out there in the aviation sector. Not only do we have land where supplier companies who are feeding into that market can potentially locate, but we also have the ability to train workforce to work in that sector,” Dick said.
Tallahassee representatives are coordinating that effort with neighboring counties, while Northwest Florida is aggressively promoting the area as ripe for more aviation industry growth.
Some of the growth is showing up in the statistics on air travel. For the airport’s 2013 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, TLH had a total of 697,661 passengers use its facilities, a gain of 5.1 percent from fiscal 2012.
For the calendar year through Oct. 31, total passengers likewise had improved – up 2.1 percent.
Check back at Tallahassee.com for an update of this story and look for more coverage tomorrow in the Tallahassee Democrat.