A professional evaluation of the economic potential of the Walker County Airport is about to take flight thanks to Bevill State Community College and funding secured by Alabama Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed, R-Jasper. The study will consider the current status of the airport and find potential areas of improvement that will benefit the communities and businesses in and around Walker County.
“By conducting this assessment, we hope to identify keys to expanding the quality of life in Walker County and create opportunities for economic development in our region,” said Dr. Kim Ennis, interim president at Bevill State.
Economists from Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM) will conduct the assessment by collecting data and performance research to prepare a description of airport facilities, services, operations, and traffic volume.
“We want to upgrade our airport and make sure it is a first-class facility to better serve our community and attract new industry to Walker County,” Senator Reed said. “I look forward to seeing what improvements the experts at AUM will recommend, and then working with local and state leaders to implement those changes. This is an exciting, forward-looking project that will position Walker County for economic growth over the coming years.”
The assessment will include recommendations for improvements collected from local business representatives, chambers of commerce, and other community organizations. Once the study is completed, a final report summarizing the findings of the research will be shared with stakeholders in an effort to chart the next phase of the airport’s operations.
“As a member of the Walker County Commission and a local businessman, I want to thank Senator Reed for his leadership in securing the funding for this study,” said Keith Davis. “A professional analysis of how the Walker County airport can be upgraded is an important step towards the goal of utilizing the airport for the benefit of existing, local businesses and attracting new industry to our area.”
“This is a great example of the College working with local business and economic leaders to positively impact our service area. We are delighted to be the catalyst for this much needed study. It would not have been possible without the support and leadership of Senator Reed,” explained Ennis.
According to Dr. Leslie Cummings, dean of Instruction and Academic Transfer at the college, the study is set to begin immediately and should be concluded sometime in Spring 2016.
“We are looking forward to sharing the information once the assessment is finished and working to make its recommendations a reality,” said Cummings. “The college has a vested interest in the economic development of Walker County and we feel this project will only lead to greater opportunities for the businesses and individuals we serve.”
“As a local businessman, pilot, and lifelong resident of Walker County, I know the airport is a tremendous asset for our area. I was eager to offer my advice to Senator Reed as he began assessing how the airport could be improved,” remarked Joey Sanders, owner of Sanders Aviation in Jasper.
“This is about giving our young people the same opportunities at success that I have had, so I am excited to see how we can upgrade the facility for the benefit of local pilots, businesses, and the public more broadly,” Sanders continued.