The Hickory Regional Airport will be getting a new 12,000-square-foot hangar following approval of an agreement between Hickory and Burke County leaders Tuesday.
The two entities will split the cost.
Under the agreement, the city will pay the upfront costs for the design and construction of the new hangar, which is estimated to be around $1.2 million.
In return, Burke County would pay its share through new property tax revenue from the airport.
The county’s cost would be limited to $600,000 but could be less based on the final cost of the hangar.
The city intends for the hangar to house planes valued at more than $1 million. The hangar will be able to hold three or four planes.
Hickory Assistant City Manager Rodney Miller said the city has already been talking to a local company about design of the hangar.
He said the design phase would likely take two to three months, after which construction could begin.
Miller said the city has already contracted with a company to remove a wall and perform site grading in preparation for the hangar.
The Hickory City Council and Burke County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the agreement.
To mark the occasion, Jeffrey Brittain, chairman of the Burke County commissioners, gave each member of the Hickory City Council and some other staff walking sticks in a nod to the trail projects currently underway in both communities.
Hickory Mayor Hank Guess said the agreement is a continuation of the “commitment that we’ve made to the citizens of Hickory to grow our tax base and to create economic development.”
Brittain heralded the agreement as the start of “a great new partnership” between the city and the county.
“We look forward to this really being the beginning of a great relationship that maybe this is just the starting point — maybe other hangars, maybe other economic development projects here around the airport that can benefit both Burke County and Hickory,” Brittain said.
City and airport leaders also discussed some of the changes the city hopes to make at the airport.
These plans included the closing of the airport’s short runway, extending the 6,400-foot runway to 7,000 feet and a the goal of returning commercial air service at the airport.
Miller said the city hired a consultant who concluded that conditions at the Hickory airport were “favorable that we would be in line to be very attractive to a commercial air carrier.”
Hickory City Manager Warren Wood said the airport has maintained the necessary certification to offer commercial service.
Wood also said the city wants to see economic development at and near the airport, adding that the city has already received some interest from companies.
He specifically cited SynergyLabs, a pet products manufacturer that looked at locating on city-owned land by the airport before opting to set up operations elsewhere in Burke County.
Kevin Griffin is the City of Hickory reporter at the Hickory Daily Record.