Airport eyes ability to be marketing tool

Mar. 20, 2013 @ 06:29 AM

In a joint meeting of Rutherford County boards and local business owners, the prospect of utilizing the Rutherford County Airport as a marketing tool was discussed.

Staff members from the Tourism Development Association, Economic Development Commission as well as representatives from the Town of Lake Lure and Rumbling Bald Golf Course met at the airport to discuss ways that the facility can be used to attract business and individuals to Rutherford County.

"These groups are an asset," said Airport Authority Chairman Bob Howard.

In the report, Howard showed other counties in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky and illustrated the various property tax rates each of those counties levy as well as the number and types of aircraft their smaller airports house and collect taxes from.

The intent was to use that data for the development of potential industrial prospects.

"It is not out of the realm of possibility," said EDC Director Matt Blackwell. "Once we finish our target market study, we can look at those target markets and locate corporate headquarters and utilize this data to help make contact."

The data included areas that house similar industry that is attuned to Rutherford County's skilled labor force. Industries such as plastics and textiles were targeted in the research.

From there, the report showed the different aircraft housed at airports that have those industries.

"We'll target people who make millions of dollars," Howard said. "We're trying to sell the county and we've got to market the airport with the county.

The end goal of the work session was to seek ways to market the Rutherford County Airport and to use that marketing for future economic development.

"Our airport needs its own website or webpage from the county's website," Blackwell said. "It can't just have the technical information but it can also include what there is to do in Rutherford County."

Blackwell added that the website should include a list of hotels, golf courses and links to the TDA on that site to provide a full experience of what the county has to offer.

Howard said that the airport is already making strides to be more "marketable" by implementing lower fuel prices which, he said are already among the lowest in the region.

"Fuel is so expensive and we're selling it lower," Howard said. "We're not greedy."

Blackwell said that marketing will be a key to driving more traffic to the airport. If that happens, data from this latest report can be used with the upcoming target market study to develop leads for economic development.

"There is absolutely value to this," Blackwell said. "Having a successful airport is a potential tool for my toolbox for economic development."

And Howard added that can be a win-win situation for Rutherford County.

"Taxpayers have put millions into this airport and this airport needs to be utilized," Howard said. "Everyone here can be a winner and the airport can be an industrial tool and it has never been utilized like that."

Howard said that he will follow up with different groups that participated in the work session in 45 days.

 

Daily Courier reporter Jean Gordon contributed to this report.