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Jan. 10 – Legislature to be asked to support $25 million for ‘Regional Airports’ in 11 mostly rurual counties

Category: Georgia News

By Lou Phelps, Coastal Empire News

January 10, 2018  – As the public, and state legislators, get their first glimpse at Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposed budget for fiscal 2019 , which will be released tomorrow after his ‘State of the State’ address, the governor highlighted some of his goals that are included.

And amongst his budget proposals is $25 million increased funding for regional airports in 10 counties of Georgia, primarily rural counties.

It’s a theme that will be prevalent in this January through March session of the General Assembly:  growing the population in over 100 of Georgia’s counties that are losing residents and jobs.  Only seven of Georgia’s counties are growing, and with the exception of Savannah and Chatham County, the concentration of population growth is all in six counties in the Atlanta metro area. 

“This year, we will allocate over $25 million in increased funding to our state’s regional airports for improvements and expansions,” the Governor announced today, in a speech before the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

“The improvements will impact eleven airports in the state, with nine of the eleven located in rural Georgia. Based on the upgrades, the airports will be elevated in their tier rankings as we extend the length of their runways to 5,000 feet or more in order to accommodate corporate aircraft and, ultimately, economic growth.

If we really want to improve the economic future of rural Georgia, this is one of the best ways possible to do so, because it will allow business leaders to come to their communities and see all that they have to offer. Companies often evaluate a community’s local aviation capabilities when considering new locations and expansions,” he said.

The nine rural communities directly impacted by this investment will be Burke, Colquitt, Cook, Macon, Morgan, Polk, Seminole, Washington and Wilkes counties. Many of the towns and cities in these counties lack direct access to Georgia’s interstate highway system, “and are unlikely to have such access in the foreseeable future,” acknowledged Deal.

“Their airports provide the best option for job creators interested in viewing their resources,” said Deal.

“Therefore, these upgraded airports will provide rural Georgia with a competitive advantage and a strong boost in their efforts to attract new companies.

The other two regional airports to gain investment is the Governor’s budget is approved are Coweta and Newton Counties which he said would relieve pressure on the metro Atlanta regional airports that are handling more and more volume due to increased population growth.

“As we make these improvements, we will be mindful of the fact that the longer the runway, the bigger the corporate jets and the greater the possibilities for our rural citizens.

“Through these important investments, we will further connect our rural communities with our broadening, statewide infrastructure network. Throughout my administration, my team and I have been dedicated to lifting all communities in Georgia, not just our denser population hubs. This is just the latest in our ongoing effort to improve the opportunities of these smaller communities, which serve as the backbone of our state’s overall success,” he concluded. 

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