Four years ago, the Greenwood Municipal Airport was a place for hobbyists to log flight time and rent a hangar to store planes
But soon, the airport will be a place where corporate executives will fly into on private jets, stay at nearby hotels and eat at local restaurants. That’s the vision airport manager Lori Curless has, and this week the city’s redevelopment commission approved spending about $1.5 million on the next projects.
Curless and city officials want to refocus the airport from a hobby-focused airport to a regional jet facility, Curless said. The bulk of the next project is the construction of two corporate hangars with office space and restrooms, totaling close to $1.3 million.
The money is coming from the city’s tax-increment financing district, not the airport’s revenue.
In 2011, the airport lost about $165,000. But in the four years since then, improvements to the runway, drainage system around the airport and the construction of two hangars have increased the airport’s revenue. Each year since 2011, the airport has made money. The new corporate hangars will feed into improving the airport and making money, Curless said.
In 2015, the airport brought in $979,388 and had $887,858 in expenses, for a profit of $91,530 last year.
The goal is to attract new businesses to the airport with the available hangar space and potentially attracting an employer to relocate its headquarters, or add a new branch, in Greenwood. The airport would provide a regional hub for the jets so officials could do all their business in Greenwood, flying in and out of the municipal airport.
Greenwood Municipal Airport is at a premium location on County Line Road near the interstate, and the city wants to leverage that to company executives, city controller Adam Stone said. City officials want the airport to leave a lasting impression on executives, turning the airport into a regional jet facility with a presence in the Indianapolis market, Stone said.
The redevelopment commission voted unanimously in favor of spending the $1.5 million. Board president Brent Tilson vouched for the impact the airport could have as a regional jet facility. Tilson’s corporate offices are located across from the airport along Emerson Avenue.
“Just last year we had a board meeting, and some of the individuals flew on commercial flights to Indianapolis when they could have landed two minutes from our offices,” Tilson said. “We are no longer a sleepy community and the airport is no longer a hobby airport. It’s a great asset to this community.”
In order to turn the airport into a regional jet facility, about $83,000 will be spent on new approach lighting on the north and south end of the airport.
The airport also will spend about $92,000 on a new GPS precision tool that will allow incoming pilots to drop to a lower altitude in poor weather conditions to assess the runway with better visibility, Stone said.
Last summer, a 6-foot fence with decorative columns and unique landscaping replaced an old rusted chain link fence in an effort to create a better appearance as motorists or visitors enter the city along County Line Road. The $400,000 project also was funded by the redevelopment commission.
New weather and flight tracking displays for pilots also are on the to-do list for the airport as a part of the terminal improvements, Stone said.
The airport staff plans to increase marketing which will include calling businesses and jet owners to persuade them to relocate to Greenwood, Curless said.
“We want to become a regional jet facility with white-glove hospitality,” Curless said. “When visitors walk in the door, we can provide reservations at a hotel, or dinner at a good restaurant. We will be more like a hotel with valet for your jet. We want to be hospitable and this $1.5 million will help us achieve that.”