Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking of a transformative project for the Southern Alleghenies region: a new aviation maintenance, repair and services hub called the Mid-Atlantic Opportunity Park. The park will be built as a nearly 130-acre extension to the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport (JST) and will be anchored by a 100,000-square-foot aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility, with additional retail space for parts suppliers, paint shops and distribution facilities. The Opportunity Park is set to open fall 2024 and is expected to create hundreds of high-paying jobs.
“Aviation has always been at the heart and soul of Johnstown and its roots, and we’re proud to now be able to expand on that legacy with the Mid-Atlantic Opportunity Park,” said U.S. Congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson. “This will solidify the area’s role as a prime destination in the aviation sector and prove to be a long-term economic driver for the community.”
Other local and state elected officials spoke at the ceremonial groundbreaking, including Pennsylvania Senator Wayne Langerholc and Pennsylvania Representative Jim Rigby.
“This is a potential game-changer, not only for the airport, but also for the entire region,” said Senator Langerholc. “An expansion of this magnitude will undoubtedly increase the region’s profile in the aviation space.”
“The Opportunity Park is addressing workforce challenges and cultivating a talent pipeline not only for our defense community, but for the aviation community on a national scale,” said Representative James Rigby. “And most importantly, students will be the beneficiaries of these jobs.”
Work done at the facility will range from routine aircraft maintenance and repair of instruments and controls to complete overhaul. With direct runway access through neighboring JST, the MRO will be in close proximity to some of the country’s largest metropolitan areas, including Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York and Chicago.
The developer of the park, Cambrian Hills Development Group, is also the owner of Nulton Aviation Services, which operates a charter service at JST. Cambrian’s CEO, Dr. Larry Nulton, has been actively engaged in workforce development initiatives for the region to attract industry and meet national industry growth.
According to Boeing’s latest Pilot and Technician Outlook report, more than 602,000 new pilots, 610,000 new maintenance technicians, and 899,000 new cabin crew members will be needed to fly and maintain the global commercial fleet over the next 20 years. Nulton, along with numerous public and private partners, has also developed several workforce development initiatives to meet industry growth:
• A pilot and mechanic training program at JST with direct access to SkyWest Airline’s Elite Pilot and Aviation Maintenance Training Pathway program.
• The establishment of an annual event, the Aerium Summit, to bring area students, educators and industry leaders together for hands-on learning, including testing simulators and flying drones. (The Mid-Atlantic Opportunity Park’s groundbreaking concluded this year’s inaugural Aerium Summit).
• The creation of aviation curricula for the region’s public school system.
“The Opportunity Park is the perfect example of this region’s collaborative spirit,” said Nulton. “Business, academia and government leaders have come together to make this project happen, and to acknowledge that we have the industry expertise and favorable geography to make this area Pennsylvania’s newest hub for the aviation industry.”
For more information, visit https://theopportunitypark.com.