Continue investmentPublished 9:18pm Monday, December 10, 2012
Some people have been critical of the city of Washington for becoming sole owner of Warren Field Airport, spending money to operate it and spending money to improve it. They consider doing that a waste of money.
City officials view the money spent on the airport as an investment in economic development. The airport is one tool the city has at its disposal when it comes to recruiting new industries and businesses to the city and area.
Granted, the airport has not been a revenue producer for the city in past years. It’s been a source of red ink on the city’s financial books. The City Council and City Manager Josh Kay are working to change that.
Kay was tasked with developing a business plan to make the airport profitable, or at least make its financial loss as little as possible. Toward that effort, the city has made a move to help the airport produce revenue.
During a meeting in August, the council adopted a resolution of intent to lease 75 acres of airport property to SunEnergy1 for $22,689 a year for 15 years, with the possibility of three extensions of five years each. The council has final approval over any such lease and related easements, which have yet to be finalized by the city and Mooresville-based SunEnergy1.
The owner of the solar farm would be Duke Energy. SunEnergy1 submitted the lease bid on behalf of Duke Energy.
The project could bring 40 jobs to the area. It could bring upward of a $50-million investment at the airport, according to Kay.
Improving the airport should make it more attractive to owners of small, private planes in the area and businesses and industries that fly into and out of the airport for commercial reasons. The more active the airport, the more revenue it’s likely to generate.