MCRA Board gives go-ahead for airport master plan
By Bruce Justice 03/26/2021
The Mingo County Redevelopment Authority Board of Directors gave the go-ahead for a master plan/feasibility study for the Appalachian Regional Airport during the MCRA’s regular meeting last week.
Prior to the agreement, MCRA Executive Director Leasha Johnson explained the purpose of the study and its long-term benefits, as well as its cost, during her report to the board.
Johnson said she and Deputy Executive Director Greta Curry conducted a meeting recently with the consulting engineering firm retained by the MCRA to do the study, E L Robinson, as well as that firm’s subcontractor, R. L. Weidemann and Associates.
The study will include a market analysis, a preliminary engineering design and estimated cost for the airport’s access road and potential funding sources to complete that road; an evaluation of utilities infrastructure; and boundary mapping of developable property, as well as comprehensive marketing and branding strategies.
“Regarding the boundary mapping, what we will receive is a rendering that will indicate the approximate developable acres that are on all those development tracts,” she said. “But what we’ll also receive as a part of this, is a full-blown survey description, which will be them surveying and staking these properties and providing flat maps for those properties we think are the most immediately marketable.”
Johnson said not all the adjacent tracts of property would be surveyed, particularly those that don’t have immediate access and are not as marketable to potential clients.
She said the marketing and branding component “would be upscale and very robust.”
“The sub-contractor has indicated that he’ll prepare a branding identity for the airport and the industrial park that will communicate to potential customers the spirit and love of our community, as well as geographic location with a lot of historical content that they can brand into an identity,” she said. “They will also develop branding logos and a stand-alone website for both the airport and air transportation park.” Also part of the agreement, Johnson explained, is the provision for an airport video that will show images/video of the property, as well as accessibility to the area and region that would be attractive to potential clients. “They will also provide a digital media kit for us to use to market both the airport and the surrounding industrial properties,” she said.
Johnson said the total cost for the study is $160,000. She said the MCRA has already secured a $98,500 WV Economic Development Administration grant for the study. The MCRA also has $210,000 remaining in its airport account, which she explained $61,500 could be immediately committed as matching funds to pay for the study. “Given what we expect to get out of this study, especially from the marketing side and the mapping and surveying side of it, I think $160,000 is a reasonable cost and I would recommend that we go forward at that cost,” she said. Following a short discussion, the board voted unanimously to approve the project.