(Copyright Paducah Sun)
Governor Bevin Expresses Support for Barkley Airport terminal project
Gov. Matt Bevin told a group of local officials Wednesday the state will be an ally in the community's pursuit of a new passenger terminal at Barkley Regional Airport.
The governor met for about an hour with representatives of the Barkley Regional Airport Authority board and local elected officials discussing economic opportunities within the aviation industry, the need to replace the airport's aging terminal, and the role state government can play in support of the project.
"We're in line, we believe, to get (about) $20 million from the federal government," George Bray, board chairman, told Bevin. "It's probably going to take three or four years, but there is going to be a significant local share we're going to have to raise.
"The airport is so important to the area. We think a new terminal will make a difference as an economic driver and, from our standpoint, we want to get involved in the discussion with the state on exactly how you guys might be able to share in the project."
Barkley officials have been reluctant to speculate on the exact cost of the new terminal due to a number of variables. It is anticipated the Federal Aviation Administration will fund 95% of the project.
Jay Page, an airport board member, provided an overview of the project.
"We'll be doing it in three phases. The first phase, which would be the largest, would be the terminal building itself," he said. "Right now, we're only discussing the first phase, which would be about a little over $20 million project."
The other phases would include a fire station and a facility to house needed equipment such as snow plows.
According to Bray, the issue of the most concern right now is that, even with the FAA funding 95% of the cost, the federal grant does not cover things the airport receives revenue on, such as rental cars, and the parking lot.
"So, the funding ends up being like 70 or 75% of the project," he said.
Bevin was encouraged local officials have already been in contact with state aviation officials, including Commissioner of Aviation Todd Bloch.
"You're talking to the right people. It's on their radar screen. They know this is a priority of this administration," Bevin said. "We've put tens of millions of dollars in our airports in the last 31/2 years and we're going to do a lot more just to make sure.
"We'll be an ally to you and we're not going to leave you hanging," the governor said. "You get 75, 80, 90%, whatever it needs to be from the FAA, we'll find what we need to make sure this works."
According to Bevin, there is an increasing demand for attracting new business and investment in the aviation and aerospace field.
"You all know this, I'm preaching to the choir. It (aviation and aerospace) is the largest contributor to our state's GDP, bar none," he said. "People are surprised by that but given our seasonality, our geographic location, there's potential there and there could be a lot more."
He suggested Barkley officials could "build an amazing ring of economic activity around the airport," including offering new services like aircraft maintenance, as one example.
Bray said he was impressed with the governor's interest and his knowledge of the subject.
"He's really an expert on aviation and very supportive of airports and aviation in general," Bray said.
"I believe he's going to be a good advocate. I'm very encouraged by the fact that the state might participate on a significant level."