Nov. 1--Planned upgrades and expansion for the Lincolnton-Lincoln County Regional Airport could help lure more corporations and spark economic growth in the county, officials said.
Airport Manager Jeff Lynn said Lincoln County is becoming a desirable spot for companies seeking lower tax rates, business incentives and closeness to Charlotte.
"What's happening right now is the tremendous growth that we're seeing in east Lincoln County with people wanting to be based here," he said. "We think that with the industrial growth in the county, there's going to be a need for our services."
Roughly $1.7 million is budgeted for construction of a new two-story terminal, extended runway and 20 hangars.
Under the plan, the airport's 5,500-foot runway would expand by 500 feet, making it safer and easier for smaller aircraft to take off and land.
A new terminal would connect to the existing one-story building through a breezeway. It would provide a kitchen, showers, a larger conference room and office space for pilots that the old terminal does not offer.
Only the terminal's first floor, about 5,800 square feet, would be constructed while the second floor remains undeveloped.
The old terminal would be leased to flight schools and corporations.
Lynn said the improvements would help modernize the 21-year-old airport.
Plans also include building 20 hangars that would be leased for individual storage space for small and light aircraft. The airport currently houses 83 aircraft in 14 hangars.
Lynn said more than 40 people are on the waiting list for new hangars.
Barry Matherly, executive director of the Lincoln Economic Development Association, said renovations would help the county recruit more corporations and aviation-related businesses.
"You have to have a high-quality regional airport to be able to compete in the future economy," Matherly said. The airport sits on 460 acres in Iron Station near N.C. 73 and N.C. 27. It has 34,000 landings and takeoffs annually.
So far, more than $800,000 has been raised for the upgrades. Of that, $640,000 will come from the N.C. State Division of Aviation, county and city of Lincolnton. And a federal grant provided roughly $160,000. Construction is expected to start by spring 2008 and finish late 2009 or early 2010.
Lena Warmack: 704-987-3670, ext. 14.
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