Thursday, December 21, 2017

Driggs-Reed Memorial Airport (KDIJ) eyes education and industry

The City of Driggs and the Teton Regional Economic Coalition are courting schools and businesses to bring aviation education and industry to the valley.

TREC Executive Director Brian McDermott presented a draft plan to the airport board on Dec. 12.

The Driggs Reed Memorial Airport has been on TREC’s radar for some time. It was listed as one of Teton Valley’s strengths in the Teton County Economic Development Plan.

“[The plan] identifies some sweet spots for job creation and economic growth…One of the very fine things we have here is a great airport with a lot of open ground,” McDermott said.

The airport has several points of appeal for technology companies and educational programs, according to the draft plan. It has excellent facilities and room for growth, and Teton Aviation has a stable of historic aircraft and a strong restoration operation.

Idaho State University has expressed interest in establishing a satellite aviation technology program in Driggs, which would include classroom components in the Trailhead Building (formerly the old Ford garage) and hands-on work at the airport.

McDermott estimated that to propel this idea forward, the university would need a million dollars for equipment, increased space, and student housing.

In addition to education, TREC also envisions aviation technology and fabrication industry, including small parts manufacturing, aircraft rehabilitation, and carbon fiber lay-up. That would fit with TREC’s goal to bring well-paying, low impact jobs to the valley, as well as the airport board’s mission statement, “To manage, promote and improve the Driggs Airport for the educational and economic benefit of the community.”

“There’s a consensus among folks that those are the kinds of businesses that are appropriate for the airport and appropriate for this valley,” McDermott said.

The next step will be to form working groups to consider project management. McDermott agreed to invite ISU Dean Scott Rasmussen and other educational leaders to a future airport board meeting.

Original article  ➤

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