PULASKI COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7)— The New River Valley Airport is one step closer to expanding its operation after receiving more than $700,000 in grants.
Wednesday, the airport announced it was awarded $743,425 combined in grant funds from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Aviation. The money makes up 98% of the cost to expand its aircraft parking ramp.
“The airport is an important player in creating jobs for the entire region, and investing in our community also means investing in the airport as well,” manager Keith Holt said.
The plan is to expand the parking ramp by about 25% of what it is already. This move coincides with the continual growth of jobs, people and resources in Pulaski County.
“It’ll give us an opportunity to have additional space and more room especially in support of our air freight operations, of which are really a tremendous part of our business and a tremendous part of our economic impact for the entire New River Valley,” Holt said.
According to the airport chairman, right now 25 to 30 major New River Valley industries, such as Federal Mogul and the Radford Arsenal, use the New River Valley Airport to ship materials or bring in company executives.
“We’ve moved more cargo this year than we probably have in the last five years, Volvo wants their cargo in here very rapidly for their assembly plant,” chairman Nick Glenn said. “The airport will serve as a conduit for these new industries since aviation is an important aspect of economic development.”
The expansion will help the airport to park aircraft and transport air cargo. This year alone, they said they have moved more than 215% more air freight than last year.
Right now it might just sound like they’re adding a parking lot at the airport, but it’s only a small piece of the bigger picture for the county’s future.
“Not only will this particular expansion support our existing industrial growth needs, but provide the capacity for continued growth in Pulaski County and the New River Valley,” Pulaski County Administrator Jonathan Sweet said. “This investment is just adding to the strength and value of the New River Valley.”
Glenn said in addition to the airport expansion, because they are surrounded by rural farmland, we could potentially see solar farms start to come to the area.
“Facilities like the airport and farmland around it present a great opportunity to those players and we’re talking multi-million-dollar packages for them to come in and put in literally thousands of solar cells to augment AEP’s system,” Glenn said.
Construction is set to begin in September and will take about 90 days to complete. Crews will be adding asphalt, updating the drainage system and lighting.
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