Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Committee seeks growth for Jefferson City Memorial Airport (KJEF), Callaway County, Missouri

The Jefferson City Airport Advisory Committee sought ways to promote future growth at the Jefferson City Memorial Airport during Monday's meeting.

Committee members will sit down with Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce and Federal Aviation Administration officials in the coming months to discuss ways to market the airport's assets and bring in additional revenue.

Former committee member Chip Gentry described the airport as a "hidden gem" that is a "necessary asset to our community."

However, a major hurdle the airport faces is lack of marketing.

"Most citizens don't know the resources they are or could be getting from this airport," said Gentry, who is an attorney for Call & Gentry Law Group in Jefferson City.

Gentry said the committee needs to talk with the Chamber of Commerce to see what resources are marketed to potential business owners and if general aviation is one of them. Gentry has been flying since 2008 and used general aviation to help expand his business. He said if business owners know the airport can be a resource to them, it might create more economic opportunities for business owners and the city.

"Knowledge is power," Gentry said. "So if folks don't know of an asset that is available to them or don't know of an opportunity available to them, just having that information in front of them potentially gives them the opportunity to use an asset that they never knew about to consider when asking whether or not to bring a new business to Jefferson City or to grow and expand an existing business here in Jefferson City using general aviation as part of that puzzle."

Other committee members suggested community events to attract residents to the airport, like the Commemorative Air Force AirPower History Tour that stopped at Jefferson City Memorial Airport in September.

Gentry recommended the committee investigate becoming an FAA-designated reliever so the airport can receive federal grants. A reliever airport relieves commercial service airport congestion and provides "improved general aviation access to the overall community," according to the FAA's website.

Being a designated reliever airport could attract some commercial flights to Jefferson City and increase revenue, Gentry said.

Committee member Ron Craft said airport staff has looked into becoming a designated reliever airport in the past and the FAA was not supportive. To be a designated reliever airport, Jefferson City Memorial Airport would need some facility upgrades; and due to lack of funding, the FAA wouldn't be in a position to provide grants for those upgrades.

Ward 2 City Councilman and Airport Advisory Committee council liaison Rick Mihalevich said the city was not in a position at this point to fund the upgrades.

Craft noted the FAA does not think Jefferson City Memorial Airport needs those upgrades to be a reliever airport for Columbia Regional Airport because Columbia already is a designated reliever airport.

Committee members said they still want to discuss the possibility with FAA and investigate other designations so to become eligible for federal funds.

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

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