The city wants to hire a new manager for the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport as its seeks to boost business, maintain its facilities and add 10 hangars throughout this year.
The city is currently advertising for the position, and hopes to have someone in place by the end of February or early March, said Tom Franzen, assistant city manager and director of economic development for Springfield. The airport is currently managed by the city manager’s office and a part-time employee has been working at the site for the past few years.
But the city wanted someone full-time to manage issues like capital improvements, its relationship with the Federal Aviation Administration, and runway and other maintenance projects.
A 2014 study from the Ohio Department of Transportation showed the airport has a significant economic impact locally — it directly and indirectly supports as many as 774 jobs and about $36 million in payroll. Statewide, airports across Ohio support about 123,500 jobs and account for about $4.2 billion in payroll.
“A review over the last 18 months over what our long-term needs are for the airport and what’s best to position it for long-term success, we felt like we needed a full-time representative,” Franzen said.
The manager will also seek grants and deal with the FAA for compliance issues, as well as maintain regular contact with several businesses that are located there or regularly use the site, Franzen said. The manager also represents the city in negotiating with airport tenants, and leases the hangar facilities and use of the airport field.
The position will have a salary range of about $43,100 to just more than $55,000.
The city currently has two full-time maintenance workers and a part-time manager at the site, and they have managed the airport well despite not having a full-time manager, Franzen said.
“We do see the city’s airport as a major investment and it is one of the gateways and one of the entrances into the community, and perceptions get created there when business leaders bring their aircraft there,” Franzen said. “The way the place is run says a lot about our community.”
Several business owners connected to the airport said a full-time manager would be beneficial.
Having a knowledgeable person in charge is crucial to helping an airport thrive as competition has increased, said Michael Catherwood, president and general manager of Spectra Jet. Inc. The company was founded in 1998 and specializes in maintenance, inspection and repairs on Learjets and Challenger aircraft. The company started small, he said, but has since grown into a roughly $5 million annual business.
“It makes sense for us because there’s a single person we can get our needs and desires through to and maybe become an advocate for us,” Catherwood said. “If they’re schooled in airport management, they could be a great advocate and help to any business that’s on the field. I look at that move as one of the best the city has made since we’ve been here.”
The airport also serves other local firms like SelectTech Geospatial, which specializes in unmanned aerial vehicles, and Champion City Aviation, a flight school that operates in several locations across Ohio with about 15 employees.
The city has done a good job maintaining the airport in recent years, but a full-time worker would be an important asset, said Dennis Epperhart, company administrator for Champion City.
“If they are going to increase the time a manager would spend here, I would think that would improve how well things get done,” Epperhart said.
The city also generates revenue from selling gasoline, hangar leases and leasing farmland surrounding the airport, Franzen said. It also serves entities like the Springfield Air National Guard, which occasionally uses the site for equipment deliveries, troop deployments or other needs.
“It’s an important position for us to fill,” Franzen said.