Sizable Federal Grant to Allow for New Construction Project at North Central West Virginia Airport

BRIDGEPORT — A sizable grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration will allow North Central West Virginia Airport to build a new development of commercial buildings on its property, according to airport officials. 

The $1.7 million federal grant will provide 80 percent of the funding needed to construct what will be called the Benedum Logistics Park on a tract of land southeast of the airport’s runway. 

The Benedum Airport Authority — the body that governs the airport — will provide the remaining 20 percent, or $426,000, according to airport Director Rick Rock. 

The park will consist of at least five buildings, all of which will be 20,000 square feet or less. 

The funding will also provide for construction of an access road off U.S. 50, a parking/turn-off area for trucks and extension of utilities to the site, Rock said. 

“I’m excited for what the future is going to bring,” Rock said. “This park — we’ve been wanting to get this developed for a long time. I’m really excited for what we’re doing. I still think we’re just scratching the potential of this airport. As long as we continue to work together and promote aerospace, the best is yet to come.” 

The buildings could potentially be used by current tenants of the Benedum Industrial Park — the collection of aerospace-related businesses surrounding the airport — to expand their current operations or could be used by new tenants, said Bridgeport Mayor Andy Lang, who sits on the Airport Authority. 

“This is on five acres of land that the airport has owned for years and there really was no use for it,” Lang said. “All public utilities, sewer and everything, will be located down on the road from the city of Bridgeport. The goal is to build an access road on to the property, excavate the property, which is pretty much ready to go, and build our first building and our parking lot.” 

The lease from the first building will provide additional funds for further construction, Lang said. 

“The goal is to build the first buildings with the parking lot and the access road and then the leasing of the building will allow us to have funding, an income stream, so we can go borrow some money and build the second building,” he said. “Then we’ll just have to work our way through the economy to see how we can come up with leases for the different buildings.”  

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., who was on hand at the airport for the announcement of the grant Friday morning, said the construction project will allow the airport to continue growing, while also creating employment opportunities for local workers. 

“I think it will really make a difference here at the airport,” she said. “It is expected to create and retain as many as 340 jobs and also to generate another $8 million in private investment. So we’re excited about that.” 

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said the grant was made possible by a bipartisan effort between himself and Capito. 

“Shelley and I get along very well; we’re really great friends,” he said. “Both of us sit on the Appropriations Committee — I think we’re the only state that has two members on. So we’re able to have one interest. If the airport comes to us and they say ‘this is our No. 1 project,’ then both of us can go over with the same request. It makes it much more unified. We’re here for West Virginia, not for ourselves.”

By:  Charles Young
Source: The State Journal