MOUNT VERNON — Business After Hours for May was held at the Knox County Airport. The event served a two-fold purpose. It let community leaders and members see the facility and learn about how it operates. It also served as a kind of rededication of the airport.
“We’re just having a Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours,” said airport operations manager Marla Elliott. “And a sort of rededication of the airport. It’s a celebration for all the construction we’ve been going through for the last five years.”
The airport is a very important part of the economic community in Mount Vernon. Many local companies and corporations have their own aircraft. Fred Dailey is on the Airport Authority and explained the significance of the facility.
“I think it’s very important for the airport to be involved with the whole community,” he said, “especially neighbors. They need to know what’s going on and what our future plans are. And they need to know why we have an airport and what it means to the community.” Dailey said he has worked with economic development groups from Ohio and other states.
“They tell me that one of the most important economic development factors is whether you have a good airport,” he explained. “Many of the CEOs still have their own planes whether they’re jets or smaller turbo props. It’s important to have that kind of efficiency when you’re doing business. It’s important for having jobs and for economic development.”
Although several local businesses have their planes at the facility, Dailey feels the important thing is having the facilities to offer any business thinking about locating in the area.
“We have the room to expand so we can have more corporate aircraft come here,” he said. “We have the infrastructure in place to do something like that.”
Karen Wright, CEO of Ariel Corp. agreed with Dailey.
“We use it constantly,” she explained. “Our airplane is used for all sorts of field service purposes. We can’t take the kind of tools we need on a commercial flight so we use it for that quite a bit. Plus most of our equipment is located in places that are 20 miles from anywhere. So it’s hard to get to many of these places without flying in.”
A short presentation was given by Airport Authority President Terry Divelbiss who introduced many current and former officials who played a part in getting the airport off the ground.
Elliott then gave a short slide presentation covering some of the history of the airport and some facts about it.
Knox County created an airport authority in January 1964. By April 1964, the current site was chosen after the initial site was rejected by the FAA. The original runway was slated to be 3,200-by-75 foot. The airport was dedicated in October 1966. In 1982, the airport authority received a grant from the state to extend the runway by 800 foot.
Now the airport has 5,500-by -100 feet of runway with a 95,000 pound weight limit. It covers 387 acres and has storage capacity for 24,000 gallons of fuel.
Business After Hours is a monthly program sponsored by The Mount Vernon-Knox County Chamber of Commerce. It is designed to let the business community and the public find out more about what businesses in the area have to offer. It also offers the business community and public the opportunity to network and exchange ideas and information about their own businesses.