Edinburg hires lobbyist to bring federal dollars to airport

-- Jan. 25--Edinburg has plans for its airport's runway that is two miles long and 13 inches deep. As part of its attempt to convert the quiet airport on the outskirts of town into a regional center for air cargo operations, the...


Last year, the city spent $3.1 million of its own money on acquiring property around the airport for the proposed runway expansion and to finalize its master plan. The city also received a $2 million federal grant to rehabilitate pavement around the airport.

But those investments are minor compared to the $234 million the city proposes to spend over the next 20 years to improve the runways, construct new cargo and terminal facilities and add a fire station and other support services to the airport.

Strategically located next to U.S. 281 and the proposed county loop, the city sees an opportunity to convert its airport into a premier air cargo facility, Garza said. The airport's foreign trade zone designation and the ample space surrounding it would allow companies to establish international operations there to bring products in and out of the country.

Getting there will take time and money -- in the city's estimation, 20 years and $234 million.

The airport's main revenue source thus far is fuel sales and hangar rentals for the private and recreational pilots who take advantage of the cheap fuel available at the quiet airport. But there still weren't any takeoffs or landings scheduled at the airport this past Wednesday.

The airport won't try to compete with others in the Valley that already offer commercial flight service for residents, said Daniel Tijerina, the city's public works director who oversees the airport. But the facility can have a regional impact by attracting companies to do business there if the city first secures the needed investments to draw them in.

"Making these improvements at the airport will play a pivotal role in impacting economic development in this area," Tijerina said. "The plans are pretty big, but the city has a vision for them."

Jared Janes covers Hidalgo County government, Edinburg and general assignments for The Monitor. You can reach him at (956) 683-4424.

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