Few people in Gadsden County are aware of it, but things are busy at the Quincy-Gadsden County Airport, located on State Road 12.
It has just begun construction of a new five-bay hangar, which is part of an improvement project, and it is expected to be finished by the end of the year.
David Gardner, president of the Gadsden County Chamber of Commerce, noted that he is sending out three to five packages a month to businesses requesting information about moving to Gadsden County. The location of nearby airports is often one of their priorities.
"In order to entice new businesses to the area, one has to understand the mindset of major national companies and even smaller ones, interested in expanding their businesses by coming to smaller communities," Gardner said."Time is money to them," he said of business executives. "They would much rather fly into the Quincy-Gadsden County Airport on their corporate plane, have a staff person pick them up in a company car, meet in Quincy and then head back to (the airport) and get on their plane, saving many hours of time."
The airport is governed by an authority and is self-supporting. Jimmy Ashmore, the former chairman, served for the past six years on the authority's board of directors. The new chairman is Don Sirmons, president of Sirmons Alignment & Brake Co. in Quincy. He was unavailable for interview.
There are several businesses located at the airport. The most active is the School for Human Flight, owned by Cindy Pirkkala, who pilots a twin-engine turbo plane. Her business includes teaching enthusiasts how to sky-jump.
"We have from 150 to 200 jumps per weekend," she said. "That means a lot of folks enjoy the experience."
Palmer Aviation is a flight-instruction school, and Hudson Aviation has its own maintenance service for pilots. The fuel system is a self service owned by the authority.
There are at least 50 airplanes currently housed at the airport. Most of them are single-engine, family-owned airplanes.
"This is the best little airport in Florida, and I have flown into many of them," said Manny Sousa, a retired U.S. Navy captain. "It is clean, friendly and a safe place to be."
"Many people don't realize that the airport is not a "rich man's playground," said Ashmore. "Lots of families own their own airplane. They use it for family trips and also for business."
Ashmore noted that a Department of Transportation study showed that businesses and government agencies using the airport put back $900,000 directly and indirectly into the local economy.
The authority receives approximately $100,000 income from hanger rentals and plane-related services. It has not asked either the county or the city for money for the the past several years.
"I'm very proud of our accomplishments," Ashmore said. "Gadsden (County) and Quincy can point to us as a self-supporting, progress-oriented public service. We are part of the future of Gadsden County and the city of Quincy."