With the additions of a Swiss-based airplane company, a convenience store and a fast-food restaurant, the Jefferson County-owned and -operated municipal airport is continuing to live up to expectations as a positive economic force in the community, county and airport officials say.
Pilatus Aircraft, a Swiss company that develops, produces and sells aircraft to customers around the world, broke ground in July at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport. Not only will it generate jobs locally, airport director Bryan Johnson said, the company also plans to start an apprenticeship program at the airport.
“As an airport, we’re thrilled to invest in them and have them on board,” Johnson said.
Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport, spanning about 1,870 acres, is home to about 300 tenants and customers and 400 aircraft, and pumps $460 million into local coffers. About 2,600 jobs, from maintenance to administration, are based at the facility, which occupies mostly unincorporated county land, but is partially located in Broomfield and borders Westminster and Superior.
County Commissioner Libby Szabo described the airport as an economic and community driver, providing jobs and attracting businesses, as well as being a place for recreational flying, flight school and fun community events, such as air shows.
“People are fascinated with aviation,” Szabo said. The airport should “be something in the community — in Jefferson County — that is world-renowned.”
Along with maintenance shops, flight schools and corporate hangars, other businesses at the airport include car rentals, a hotel and restaurants. The airport also boasts a U.S. Customs Office available 24 hours a day.
Pilatus is expected to be operational at the airport by summer 2018, Johnson said.
Also coming soon are a 7-Eleven convenience store and an Arby’s restaurant. Leases for both are already in place, Johnson said. The 7-Eleven is expected to open by November and Arby’s sometime next year.
Both will be on airport property, but can be used by anyone. They will be “great for the airport and the community,” Johnson said.
A new advisory board
Also in the works is the creation of a five-member airport advisory board to help determine the airport’s direction and its role in the community.
“We live in a complex world,” Johnson said, so having additional ideas is always positive.
County Commissioner Casey Tighe noted the county often uses advisory boards to help commissioners with decision-making. For instance, Jeffco Open Space Parks and Trails, which provides residents with a variety of outdoor recreational activities, has an advisory board that brings in views from all stakeholders.
And it’s important to have that diversity of opinion with the airport, Tighe said. “We want to hear all those voices.”
As proposed, the board would consist of an airport user; a representative from Broomfield, Westminster or Superior a citizen at-large; an adjacent business owner; and a neighboring resident.
From Aug. 15 to Aug. 26, an online survey concerning the advisory board will be conducted and meetings of the airport’s already existing focus groups will take place to discuss the subject. Information from those meetings and the survey will be presented to the county commissioners on Sept. 13. The commissioners’ comments and suggestions will then be added to the recommendation, and following that, the implementation of the advisory board is expected to begin.