Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

News

June 17, 2014

Proposed airport expansion to boost job creation, officials say

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is part of a series that explores issues related to the proposed expansion of the Greensburg airport. Please read this week’s issues of the Greensburg Daily News for more stories in the series.

GREENSBURG — Marc Coplon, the local economic development guru, knows first-hand that transportation infrastructure — highways, rail, airports — affect a community’s ability to attract jobs.

Coplon spent many years in the South, in Dayton, Tennessee, for example, a city about the size of Greensburg, where a larger airport helped the community attract the largest La-Z-Boy plant in America.

La-Z-Boy officials were flying to another destination in Tennessee in the 1970s to scout the area for a potential production facility when one of the passengers suggested they stop in Dayton. The executives were so impressed by the city that they never flew to their original destination and decided to build a plant in Dayton instead, said Airport Manager Wanda Fulmer.

La-Z-Boy is the county’s largest employer still today, with about 1,800 workers, and executives use the airport to visit customers and suppliers, Fulmer said. Other companies, too, use the airport for corporate flights, and some also for delivery of products or receiving raw materials.

Coplon said he expects the planned expansion of the Greensburg airport to also boost the local economy.

Airport and city leadership — of both political parties — share Coplon’s assessment and support the planned local expansion, which would cost about $17 million. The federal government would pay about 90 percent of the cost, with the state and the city of Greensburg each chipping in 5 percent.

The local expansion primarily would focus on adding a larger runway. The airport’s existing runway, at 40 feet wide and 3,433 feet long, is too small for all but small single- and twin-engine planes, said Jon Dooley, president of the Greensburg Municipal Airport board.

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