A European company plans to build small airplanes at a plant near the municipal airport.
The project will improve the city’s economy, bring in skilled employees and increase interest in the general aviation airport, city officials said.
Planning Commission approved plans Sept. 1 for a 6,300-square-foot hanger to be built at 2410 S.W. Aviation St., which was the last space available for development on the airport’s east side. Development on the airport’s west side will stall until a parallel taxiway can be built.
The 39,000-square-foot plant and 49 parking spaces will be built on just more than 11 acres at 3201 S.W. I St.
Lonesome Tree Properties owns the land adjacent to the south end of the runway and just north of the Salvation Army.
Game Composites of Faldingworth, England, is the owner of the project.
The business will have an impact on the airport although it’s not on city-owned property, Ben Peters, airport manager and city engineer, said.
Small, aerobatic, custom-built planes will be manufactured at the facility, he said.
“They’re not for traveling from point A to point B,” he said. “They’re for doing tricks.”
The city was told the business will eventually employ up to 50 people, Troy Galloway, community and economic development director, said. They will be highly trained and skilled given the nature of the business, he said.
Secondary and tertiary effects, such as impact on the supply chain and the potential spawning of other small start up businesses, are possible, Galloway said.
“That’s where this sort of thing gets exciting,” he said. “It’s hard to say exactly what’s going to happen, but there’s a lot of potential there.”
Both Galloway and Peters said the business will likely increase interest and activity at the municipal airport.
The Planning Commission approved the development Tuesday meeting.
The building’s exterior is to be built of fiber cement panels, green screen, metal panel and glass, according to the planning staff report. Nearly 10 percent of the project’s site will be interior green space.
Other development projects are in the works on the airport property, west of the runway and two properties north of the manufacturing plant.
Plans for two hangars will soon go before the Planning Commission, Peters said. They will be parallel and immediately south of the hanger at 2501 S.W. I St., which was built last year.
“Then that’s it,” Peters said. “That’s the extent of the available space because no one else could build a hanger and access the taxiway.”
A west side parallel taxiway is essential as it would allow connectivity for new hangers on the west side and increase the runway capacity so planes wouldn’t have to use the runway to taxi, Peters said. Design for a west side taxiway is proposed in the 2016 budget.
The development of the airport’s west side has been a discussion point among city and airport officials for a few years as space on the east side is full.