Cape Gazette
http://capegazette.villagesoup.com/p/1107430

Tuesday Editorial

Promote county airport to attract new growth

Jan 28, 2014

With nearly 900 employees who earn a total of $51 million a year, Sussex County Airport and its industrial park are among the leading employers of Sussex County. A recent report also deemed the airport well run, a gem waiting to be discovered.

In presenting the Department of Trans­portation- funded report to Sussex County Council in November, a consultant told coun­cil, “This is what most counties would love to have; you are in a fantastic position.”

A 500-foot extension of the airport runway was recently finished, placing Sussex among only four airports in the region with runways at least 5,500 feet long.

The county airport now ranks alongside airports in the cities of Dover, Easton and Salisbury, and a second runway extension is already in the works.

As successful as the airport is, county tax­payers subsidize its operations to the tune of about $300,000 per year: The airport averages $825,000 in expenses, but has revenues of only $533,000, the report shows. That deficit could be erased over time, the consultant said, by expanding hangar space and the industrial park, attracting new clients, implementing new fee structures and perhaps establishing a flight school.

High among the recommenda­tions: the airport should attract corporate jets and promote tourism that comes through the airport.

All of that, he said, starts with a new name.

When it comes to airports, a name offers an opportunity to stand out. Except for local residents, the name Sussex County Airport doesn’t help many people identify where the airport is, nor does it promote the airport’s proximity to the major markets of the East Coast or the best beaches of the Atlantic.

It’s time to rebrand this facility and launch a marketing campaign to identify and attract new businesses ready to take advantage of the airport’s low costs and great location.

Sussex County Airport is a gem, but for now it’s diamond in the rough when it should be a top priority.

Now is the time to take action to make this airport shine.

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