During his State of the State address in Albany Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced new funding to enhance and revitalize the Plattsburgh International Airport. The new funds will be used to enhance aerospace and general aviation facilities as a separate terminal upgrade is completed.
The airport is located on the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base. The passenger terminal is currently undergoing a $55 million expansion. In announcing a $38 million dollar grant Governor Cuomo said it is also time to make the airport an economic development hub. “We're going to start with a 60,000 square foot industrial incubator to commercialize aviation technologies. We’ll also build a new 15,000 square foot distribution center to work with the companies that are up there now and are moving their goods. We will also construct a new general aviation customs facility, a Clinton County Transit Center, electric vehicle charging stations. To attract private investment 200 acres of developable space will be located next to the airport. And I believe this is going to be a major boost to the North Country.”
Plattsburgh North Country Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Garry Douglas explains that last year the governor created a $200 million upstate airport competition for proposals of up to $40 million for state investments to transform airports. “Most airports submitted projects related specifically to their passenger terminals in one way or another. We were already in the position where our county with a lot of federal and some state support are just about complete with a new $55 million terminal project. We didn't need funds for that. But we thought we should be able to move us into the aviation industrial side of the airport development facilities for tenants and other kinds of aviation activity. It really is an exciting next stage development in the evolution of this airport.”
Clinton County owns the airport. County Legislature Chair Harry McManus says the $38 million the governor announced Wednesday is paramount to plans to bring in ancillary development. “The beauty of this grant is that not only do we get a chance to put up some buildings and renovate some buildings we get a chance to tear down you know what was the old Plattsburgh Air Force Base so it actually looks like an industrial park out at the airport. But there are some things in there relative to the passenger experience I think that are also significant. So we're going to have an airport which offers so many different things to different people. Ultimately this is going to be the economic engine I think that powers Clinton County.”
“This is a big deal for the economic development opportunities in a number of ways.” The Development Corporation Executive Director Paul Grasso: “If you look at airport development around the country they really are magnets for economic development. There are some companies that like to be at airports. There are some companies because of their industries need to be at an airport and to be close to a cargo facility it's just an added benefit. We periodically get calls from companies wanting to know if there is space available at the airport. And some of the existing buildings were just you know simply old buildings that don't meet today's manufacturing needs. So I think it's going to be a very long term benefit to the region and it's just another thing that we're able to market.”
The new funding is expected to generate 825 construction jobs. Projects are targeted for completion in two years.