The Times West Virginian

In Today's TWV

August 14, 2008

Mollohan: Airport drainage project will lead to more jobs

BRIDGEPORT — A new stormwater drainage project at the North Central West Virginia Airport will lead to more aerospace and aviation-related jobs for the region, U.S. Rep. Alan B. Mollohan said.

One of a dozen subcommittee chairmen on the House Appropriations Committee, Mollohan obtained a $1 million grant from the federal Economic Development Agency for the project.

Flanked by airport officials, Harrison County Commissioners Ron Watson and Frank “Chunki” Angotti, and officers of the Mid-Atlantic Aerospace Complex, Mollohan took part Thursday in the groundbreaking for the project.

Installing drains and nearly a mile of stormwater lines on the east side of the main runway will open up an area that airport and MAAC officials have long seen as a good site for firms which need “just-in-time” access to air transportation.

Development of the 48 acres will help diversify the region’s economy, helping it to obtain more aerospace and aviation jobs, Mollohan said.

The state’s coal, oil and natural gas industries are doing well, which is “tremendous,” he said.

“What we want to do at the same time is create other sectors of our economy.”

The aerospace sector is projected “by all economists to grow in the future,” he said.

Studies done earlier this decade show the airport’s cluster of existing aerospace and aviation firms, plus Fairmont State University’s aerospace and aviation school, support hundreds of well-paying jobs.

“What we’ve done so far has been extremely successful,” he said.

“The airport authority and the Mid-Atlantic Aerospace Complex are going to be increasingly strategic as they partner to promote,” even more economic development at the airport, Mollohan said.

He also praised U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd for his involvement in expanding and improving the airport.

Byrd obtained the funding to extend the airport’s main runway to 7,000 feet in the 1990s.

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