Bill Francis WDRB.COM
Clark County Airport still looking to grow
June 12, 2013
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  • CLARK COUNTY, IN. (WDRB) –Leaders in Clark County, Indiana continue their efforts to expand the Clark Regional Airport.

    The airport handles about 48,000 takeoffs and landings a year, but local leaders would like to see those numbers increase.

    They have attempted for years to make improvements to the airport, including expanding the runway from 5,500 feet to about 7,000 feet.

    But the project has run into difficulties due to litigation and difficulty in raising money. So to try to raise more money, the operational structure of the airport is in for some changes.

    “We are scheduled to become an airport authority July 1,” explains Jim Baker, who is a member of the Board of Aviation Commissioners which currently oversees the airport. “We will be known as the South Central Regional Airport Authority.”

    Baker says the authority will replace the aviation commissioners and that will make it easier to raise money for airport operations and capital improvements. “A regional airport authority will allow us to obtain funds from outside sources and for the expansion and improvement of our airport,” says Baker, “and we will not be asking for any tax revenue from local taxpayers.”

    The airport hopes to attract more corporate aircraft, which is the fastest growing segment of air travel. “Seventy-five percent of your aircraft that are flying today are corporate,” says Clark Regional Airport manager Melodee McNames, “so we want to open our airport to this corporate traffic and with longer runways we can do that.”

    An improved airport should also mean an improved business climate for Southern Indiana and for the metro area as well. “Businesses that are looking at locating or relocating into an area like to see a good transportation infrastructure plan in place,” says Wendy Chesser, the chief executive officer of One Southern Indiana, the agency which works to attract businesses to the southern Indiana area.

    Airport leaders hope to complete land acquisition for the runway expansion during the next three to six months, but it will likely be 2015 before the project is complete.