Friday, April 7, 2017

Todd Dugan: New Pekin Municipal Airport (C15) manager plots course



PEKIN — The Pekin Municipal Airport has a new pilot at the helm charged with taking the facility in a more profitable direction.

Airport Manager Todd Dugan, 25, a native of Peoria, started the position on March 13. This is his first position as an airport manager since graduating from Southern Illinois University in December 2016. He received a masters of public administration, aviation administration specialization in 2016, and in 2014, received a degree in aviation management. He also minored in airport management and planning, marketing and environmental studies.

His salary as airport manager is $54,080.

Dugan said that when he went to school for aviation, he thought he would never live in his hometown again.

“So, when this opportunity came up I thought it was a great opportunity to come back home, be around my family,” said Dugan. “I’m expecting my first kid in June, so to be around family when we have the kid will be nice.

“When I was in school, one of our classes, you had to do an interview with somebody in the industry and the person I was assigned to was actually (Pekin Municipal Airport Manager) Clayton (Stambaugh). So I talked with him a few times. So when it opened up he let me know the position opened up and I applied right away.”

Dugan said he sees the airport as a place for community.

“I’d really just like to make it be a better place for the community, have events and stuff like that to show the community what the airport is like, what aviation can be,” said Dugan. “At my position at ISU, I was in charge of recruitment for the aviation department and I really liked showcasing aviation to kids.

“So if I can figure out a way to get kids out to the airport, get them an intro flight and stuff of that nature, I think would be really great. When you have a small community like this, they are lucky to have an airport because what it brings in is the stuff you don’t see. Like prison’s — prisons, a lot of them around the country are located near airports so they can get the inmates in and out quickly. That’s a couple hundred jobs to Pekin right there. The small aspect is the people coming by for fuel sales. And a lot of businesses want to be near an airport so they can get in and out quick.”

The airport will host the Pekin Pilots Association Wings & Wheels event on June 17. The event has food, airplane rides for children, a car and motorcycles show and more.

Dugan said the airport had a $30,000 deficit in operations last year, which he wants to bring down to zero. But, he said, the airport generates $3.1 million in economic gain in the community.

“Not a bad investment, but we do want to bring it closer,” said Dugan. “Part of that is marketability. I’m getting more people to stop in here on their cross country trips rather than other local small airports. And those community events — if you have nice events people will fly in for those.”

The airport currently has 25 tenants and it is at capacity. There is a waiting list for another 15 companies or individuals for hangar space. He said Federal Aviation Administration and the Illinois Department of Transportation approval is needed before additional hangars can be built.

That could happen in approximately four years, he said, and new hangars are in the airports’ five-year plan. Federal grants would pay 95 percent of the cost and the city 5 percent.

“We don’t want to go spend a half million dollars to $1 million on a hangar that’s going to get us $1,000 a month,” said Dugan. “We want to wait until the FAA is going to give us most of that and then build it so it makes the most economic sense.”

City Manager Tony Carson said he was impressed with Dugan’s education background and his interest in aviation.

“I believe that’s going to be a great asset to the airport going forward,” said Carson. “It’s just going to ensure that the projects we have in place — the lighting projects for one is some of the biggest expenses we’re going to be having going forward over the next year — someone to manage the projects, to make sure that the airport is efficiently run and available for all the users.

“... Our local businesses feel that this is important for us to have and airport that’s close by that they can come into very quickly in an efficient manner. It’s a great asset to any community to have a municipal airport.”

Original article can be found here:   http://www.pekintimes.com

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