MOUNT OLIVE — The town’s airport contributes more than $21 million annually to the area’s economy — a 35 percent increase from three years ago — and supports 180 jobs — a 50 percent increase from three years ago, Town Manager Charles Brown said.
The airport, and its aviation-related jobs, also provides $8 million in personal income and contributes $687,000 in state and local tax revenues annually, according to a statewide study of airports by the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Division of Aviation.
Located just off the Old Mount Olive Highway north of town, the airport is named in honor of Chuck Yeager, the first pilot to fly faster than the speed of sound.
Mount Olive showed up very well in the report, Commissioner Barbara Kornegay said during the town board’s Monday session.
“The data show other interesting things like the jobs that are related to airports such as construction jobs and the other spinoff jobs that happen as the result of having an airport in your community,” she said. “Part of the attractions pilots have to our particular airport is that our fixed base operator, Bass Aviation, is well known in the aviation community because he can fix things and make sure that they pass inspections.”
The company works on fixed-wing and rotary aircraft as well as jets, Brown said. He said a large reason for that $21 million economic impact is the number of aircraft that come there for maintenance and service and inspections.
The town provides only $40,000 annually to the airport budget, Brown said.
“So for $40,000, you get a $21 million economic impact, an $8 million payroll and of course, 180 jobs,” he said.
The report, “North Carolina: The State of Aviation,” highlights the economic impacts of the state’s public airports and the related aviation and aerospace assets that support North Carolina’s aviation economy.
The DOT created the report to help guide future investment in aviation infrastructure and to act as a tool for recruiting future aviation and aerospace industry.
The report contains data compiled and analyzed for the DOT by North Carolina State University’s Institute for Transportation Research and Education.
Impacts are calculated based on factors such as jobs supported by the airports and the businesses that rely on them, business and leisure travelers, and airport capital projects and operations.
Mount Olive Mayor Joe Scott said he is pleased with the report.
“The aviation industry in our state depends upon this report for accurate information about the progress of the aviation industry,” Scott said.
“We have made great strides in growth at our airport in the past four years. That was one of my goals as commissioner and mayor, to bring this airport out of obscurity and into the level of potential our town deserves.”
That was accomplished by wise planning from the airport committee and the foresight and support of town leaders, Scott said.
“We were near the bottom in growth and expansion,” he said. “Now we are in the middle tier of some great airports in the state. It has brought southern Wayne County and northern Duplin County into the game for economic growth. With the Mount Olive Industrial Park adjacent to the airport, it makes it more appealing for industries who need access to air travel for their business.
“It gives northern Duplin County the opportunity to build another industrial park. Mount Olive is clearly moving forward as a major player in aviation and economic development in eastern North Carolina.”
View the full report, including the breakdown of each individual airport’s contributions, at www.ncdot.gov/aviation.