The Liberty Gazette
January 22, 2013Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: It’s an exciting time for aviation in Liberty County with new managers at the public airports in both the north and south parts of the county. In addition to Liberty’s Jose Doblado, the Cleveland Municipal Airport welcomes Clay Dean to the patch. Clay is no stranger to the Cleveland Airport. The president of Aviation Services and vice president of the Cleveland Aviators Aero Club (CAAC) took over the FBO and manager job when Alf Vien retired earlier this month. We’ll have more on the Cleveland Airport next week. For now, let’s take a peek into the future, and the wider area around us.
Mike: There are 26 public-use airports in the greater Houston-Galveston area and a number of them have made or are making improvements anticipating renewed economic growth in the region. The Texas Gulf Coast Regional Airport in Brazoria County near the communities of Lake Jackson and Angleton is one such airport. Developing a strong, well designed airport in the right location makes it easy for businesses to get there and get out to the rest of the world. Do that, and put out a welcome sign and businesses looking to relocate will be very interested, and will bring jobs with them. And so a real test of how serious a city or county is about economic growth is what they’re doing with their airport.
The Economic Development Alliance in Brazoria County believes in their airport. Its 20-year master plan is well underway, with a number of improvements completed since 2008. The runway has been extended to 7,000 feet, enough to accommodate small to medium sized airliners. Hobby’s longest runway is only 7,600 feet long. It’s also part of the Freeport Free Trade Zone. Construction of a new 11,000 square-foot terminal building voted on by county commissioners will be opening soon and future improvements include more public and private hangars and an air traffic control tower.
Gulf Coast Regional Aviation Director, Jeff Bilyeu, also a member of the steering committee for the FAA’s Regional Aviation System Plan, sees a bright future for the airport and the communities it serves.
Members of the county’s Economic Development Alliance joined Bilyeu at the National Business Aviation Association’s annual conference in Orlando this year to spread the word about what their airport has to offer, and they’re getting noticed. Charter operators, aircraft manufactures and non-aviation companies have shown interest in relocating to the airport and to Brazoria County because of the airport. Selling points are the transportation and business possibilities that exist and the strong pro-business attitude of the leaders of Brazoria County. Included in the master plan is a 150-acre business park for multi-use office buildings and warehouses, great compliments to areas surrounding an airport (outside the clear-zones airplanes need to take off and land safely).
Linda: This, ladies and gentlemen, is what fostering real job creation looks like. When the people who create the businesses that create jobs find a business-friendly place to locate and investment in infrastructure the incentives that brought them there are passed along to employees, which are passed along into the marketplace. It’s healthy capitalism at its best.