UNION TWP. — In Seth Kohn’s estimation, New Castle Municipal Airport is one of the region’s top facilities in its class.
Admittedly, Kohn is hardly objective on the matter. He’s chairman of the Lawrence County Airport Authority.
But he’ll quickly point out that the airport, in Union Township, has two runways, which makes it better equipped than most municipal facilities. And the airport is about to improve by $100,000.
PennDOT announced this week that the airport will receive that amount in a federal transportation grant. Kohn said the airport will use the funding to expand an existing hangar. With the larger hangar, the airport will be able to handle additional traffic and generate more income.
“We were kind of shocked that we got the grant, but we were pleased,” Kohn said.
Most of the airport’s existing traffic consists of business flights into and out of the region, which means economic development in Lawrence County and the New Castle area would mean additional traffic at the facility.
Kohn acknowledged that one possible economic development project — the proposed Lawrence Downs harness racing track and casino — could be a boon to the region as well as the airport.
The state Gaming Control Board is considering a casino license application for the location. If approved, it would clear the way for construction.
“I would hope so,” Kohn said. “But we’re not holding our breath on that project.”
The relationship between business development and airport activity goes in both directions, said Kohn, president of Neshannock Township-based Fleming Steel. Airport traffic also benefits local businesses and local governments.
“Airports are a great source of revenue for municipalities,” Kohn said.