Flagler County Airport, which averages 535 aircraft takeoffs and landings a day, is the busiest contract tower airport in the state and third busiest in the nation.
“We’re the 72nd busiest airport in the country with a tower,” said airport director Roy Sieger.
In recent years, the airport has planned, initiated or completed projects totaling more than $9.5 million with nearly all of the cost covered by grants. The county’s share of those costs was $34,000, according to Sieger.
“We’re doing more projects than most international airports are doing,” said Sieger, who spoke this week at a Think Flagler First luncheon. The event was put on by the Flagler Chamber of Commerce and Flagler County Department of Economic Opportunity.
Projects underway and/or planned at the airport include moving the main runway 400 feet to the south, extending it by 500 feet and building a new parallel runway.
A 2010 state study found that the county airport’s estimated economic impact is $120 million annually and that it supports 1,400 jobs either directly or indirectly, said Sieger.
“This quantifies what local airports bring to the community,” he said.
Sieger said many residents drive by the airport off of State Road 100 and have no idea what goes on there or how important the facility is to the county’s economic health.
“I run this airport as a business,” he said, explaining that the airport operates as an enterprise fund and receives no local tax funds.
“Everything we do is done by us,” Sieger said. “Anything I can do for a buck, I’ll do.”
In addition to flight operations, the airport is home to 25 businesses, ranging from a restaurant, car rental facility, a jet charter company and even a church.
Garry Lubi, chairman of the Economic Alliance Council at the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce, said Sieger’s talk is an example of how the county has “very positive things happening in relations to economic development.”
Lubi is senior vice president at Ameris Bank in Palm Coast.
The next Think Flagler First luncheon is scheduled to be held May 28. The purpose of the event, which is held every other month, is to “keep us informed on things going on in our community,” Lubi said.