Jetport Expansion Continues With $4.77 Million in State Funding
SANFORD, N.C. -- Expansion will continue at Raleigh Exec after the jetport received $4.77 million in state funding to expand and enhance taxi lanes in what is being called the South Terminal Area Project.
Funding approved on Sept. 9 by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, which will require a 10-percent local match, would bring the total investment to about $5.3 million. And, according to Airport Director Bob Heuts, "will be a game changer for the south side of the jetport."
Construction would expand one taxiway and build new taxiways to connect existing ones, allowing planes to move more easily among smaller hangars south of the terminal.
But more importantly, the new taxiways also open a new section of the jetport grounds for development. Raleigh Exec's master plan calls for the area to include box hangars, facilities to store aircraft that are larger than the T-hangars used by many recreational pilots.
Heuts said the South Terminal Area Project also will allow the airport to add water, sewer and storm water infrastructure, making the site even more attractive for business.
"Because it's not accessible by our current taxiways, the ground out there has not been used for anything," Heuts said. "We're going to start using it now to attract more private investment. With businesses still flowing into the Triangle Region and Raleigh-Durham International focusing more on commercial passenger service, even more opportunities are opening for Raleigh Exec.
"This expansion puts us in a position to take advantage of it."
Though no specific dates for the project have been announced, the tentative plan is to begin receiving construction bids sometime before November and begin construction next year in early spring.
The South Terminal Area Project is the latest in a series of ongoing expansions at the general aviation airport.
Back in May, Raleigh Exec held an event billed as an "Expansion Celebration" to mark the completion of one major project and the beginning of another.
Completed was a $2.7 million project connecting Raleigh Exec to the City of Sanford's public sewer system. Scott Hamilton, President and CEO of Golden LEAF, told guests at the celebration that his economic development foundation contributed $1.5 million to the sewer project because it showed a clear path to creating jobs and could "move the economic needle" for surrounding communities.
At the same time, officials celebrated the groundbreaking for a 16,250-foot corporate hangar with office space, a project now under construction that allows Raleigh Exec to accommodate large corporate jets that need to be stored for one night or many months.
That space was designed to handle a Gulfstream G650, one of the largest corporate jets manufactured, and is the first construction in the jetport's new North Terminal Hangars, a development that offers additional shovel-ready sites for hangars 15,000 square feet or larger.
Heuts believes the taxiway additions will further strengthen Raleigh Exec, which already makes a significant contribution to the regional economy. According to a report released this year by the North Carolina Division of Aviation, Raleigh Exec generates $62.7 million annually in economic output and supports 490 jobs. About 180 aircraft are currently based at the jetport.
Others agree. As the N.C. Board of Transportation representative for the region that includes Raleigh Exec, Lisa Mathis believes the jetport is a valuable asset not only for Lee County, but all of North Carolina -- an asset that needs to be supported and protected.
"Airport infrastructure improvements like these are critical to not only improve safety and customer service, but also promote both business and leisure travel in our communities and state," she said. "The return on investment on projects like this is real. It will open doors for new jobs and other opportunities for residents in our region."
About Raleigh Exec
Billed as a premier corporate gateway to the Research Triangle, Raleigh Exec Jetport is a general aviation airport serving corporate and recreational flights in a region of central North Carolina that includes Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Chapel Hill, Sanford and the Research Triangle Park. Raleigh Exec operates on 700 acres off of U.S. 1, just 15 miles from the Raleigh Outer Beltline, and is home to corporate aircraft, the North Carolina Forest Service, many aviation-related businesses and one of the nation?s largest and most respected flying clubs. More information is available at raleighexec.com.